ROME, Italy — The Vatican has confirmed Pope Francis received the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Thursday.
No photos of the 84-yer-old pontiff receiving the shot have been released. The pope has advocated that everyone should get the vaccine, calling it an “ethical option” performed not only for one’s own health but for the “lives of others.”
The Vatican has beefed up coronavirus restrictions amid a spike in cases in Italy. The pope, who is missing part of one lung since a surgery in his 20s, has been saying the traditional Angelus blessing from a library in the Apostolic Palace, and not a window overlooking St. Peter’s, in a bid to prevent gatherings.
The Vatican launched its vaccination program this week, administering the Pfizer vaccine. Vatican City has had at least 27 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including a cluster among the Swiss Guards last fall.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 23 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Thursday, the U.S. had more than 384,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 92 million confirmed cases with nearly 2 million deaths.