A health worker holds a Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine at Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center in Miami, Florida, on Dec. 30. The Vatican says its citizens will receive the vaccine this month. (Photo: AFP)
The Vatican City State, the world's smallest sovereign nation with nearly 800 citizens including Pope Francis, will receive Covid-19 vaccine doses by the middle of this month.
"It is likely that the vaccines could arrive in the state in the second week of January in sufficient quantity to cover the needs of the Holy See and the Vatican City State," said a Vatican statement on Jan. 2.
The Vatican has secured an ultra-cold refrigerator to store the vaccines, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which need to be stored at about minus 70 degrees Celsius.
The vaccinations will start in the second half of January, giving priority to the health of public personnel and the elderly.
"Priority will be given to health and public safety personnel, to the elderly and to personnel most frequently in contact with the public," said Dr. Andrea Arcangeli, head of the Vatican health service.
Vaccination in the Vatican will be administered voluntarily, the statement added.
The Vatican did not say if or when the 84-year-old pope would be vaccinated.
The Vatican had earlier clarified that it is ethical for Catholics to receive the vaccine that has reportedly used aborted fetus stem cells in the absence of alternatives.
According to reports, 27 coronavirus cases have been reported in Vatican City so far, with no deaths.
Two cardinals in the Vatican tested positive last month.
Pope Francis has repeatedly asked world leaders to grant the poor access to vaccines against the pandemic, which has claimed 1.85 million lives globally.
In his Christmas Urbi et Orbi address, the pope 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.
"I ask everyone — government leaders, businesses, international organizations — to foster cooperation and not a 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."