VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican began offering free vaccinations against COVID-19 to Rome’s homeless on Wednesday.
The vaccinations took place in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, the huge auditorium where weekly papal general audiences take place but which has been largely disused because of the coronavirus pandemic.
They were overseen by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, 57, the Polish head of the papal charities office, who has taken on a leading personal role in looking after Rome’s homeless.
About 25 homeless people who are looked after in facilities run by the office received their first dose, and more groups would be vaccinated in the coming days, a statement said.
Last week, both Pope Francis, 84, and ex-Pope Benedict, 93, received their first dose of a vaccine.
Pope Francis said in a television interview earlier this month that everyone should get a jab.
“It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others,” he told Italy’s Canale 5 TV station.
Under Francis, the Vatican has set up a number of structures to help Rome’s homeless population, including a clinic, bathing facilities and barber and hair cutting services.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson)