Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict receive COVID-19 vaccine

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Jan. 14 (UPI) — Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict both received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, the Vatican said.

“I can confirm that as part of the vaccination program of the Vatican City State, as of today, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and to the Pope Emeritus,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, said Wednesday, according to Vatican News.

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Pope Francis is 84 and Pope Benedict is 93, placing them both at increased risk for complications from the novel coronavirus.

Francis also had part of his lung removed as the result of a recurring infection at age 21 and has said it gives him “some sense of how people with coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators.”

Francis has also strongly advocated for the vaccine to be widely distributed and accepted.

In a recent interview, he said that refusing inoculation is ethically unacceptable.

“You are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others,” he said.