Vatican City set to launch COVID-19 vaccinations this month

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Coronavirus vaccines are scheduled to arrive in Vatican City next week, according to the Vatican director of health and hygiene.

In a statement released Jan. 2, the head of the Vatican health service, Dr. Andrea Arcangeli, said that the Vatican has purchased a low temperature refrigerator to store the vaccine and expects to begin administering vaccinations in the second half of January in the atrium of Paul VI Hall.

"Priority will be given to health and public safety personnel, to the elderly and to personnel most frequently in contact with the public," he said.

The Vatican health service director added that Vatican City State expects to receive enough vaccine doses in the second week of January to cover the needs of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

Vatican City State, the world's smallest independent nation-state, has a population of only around 800 people, but together with the Holy See, the sovereign entity that predates it, it employed 4,618 people in 2019.

In an interview with Vatican News last month, Arcangeli said the Pfizer vaccine was expected to be made available to Vatican City residents, employees and their family members over the age of 18 in the first months of 2021.

"We believe it is very important that even in our small community a vaccination campaign against the virus responsible for COVID-19 is started as soon as possible," he said.

"In fact, only through widespread and widespread immunization of the population can real benefits in terms of public health be obtained to gain control of the pandemic."

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, a total of 27 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Vatican City State. Among them, at least 11 members of the Swiss Guard tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Vatican statement did not say if or when Pope Francis might be administered the vaccine, but stated that vaccinations will be provided on a voluntary basis.

Pope Francis has repeatedly appealed to international leaders to grant the poor access to vaccines against the coronavirus which has claimed more than 1.8 million lives worldwide as of Jan. 2.

In his Christmas "Urbi et Orbi" address, Pope Francis said: "Today, in this time of darkness and uncertainty regarding the pandemic, various lights of hope appear, such as the discovery of vaccines. But for these lights to illuminate and bring hope to all, they need to be available to all. We cannot allow the various forms of nationalism closed in on themselves to prevent us from living as the truly human family that we are."

"Nor can we allow the virus of radical individualism to get the better of us and make us indifferent to the suffering of other brothers and sisters. I cannot place myself ahead of others, letting the law of the marketplace and patents take precedence over the law of love and the health of humanity."

"I ask everyone -- government leaders, businesses, international organizations -- to foster cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy."

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