ROME — The Vatican has begun offering COVID-19 vaccines to homeless people and says it plans to expand the program in coming days.
A preliminary group of 25 people who live in residences run by the pope’s chief alms-giver received the shots on Wednesday in the Vatican’s auditorium. They joined Pope Francis, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican employees and their families who began receiving the vaccines last week.
The Vatican, as a sovereign city state, arranged for its own vaccine deliveries and said its first jabs were the Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Italy has it’s own vaccine campaign under way but to date the national health care system is prioritizing health care workers and the elderly.
Francis has called for universal availability of the shots, especially for the poor and most vulnerable. He has also said it was ethically necessary to take the vaccine, expressing incredulousness at vaccine and virus skeptics, because "you’re playing not only with your health but the health of others.”