The Holy See on Wednesday began vaccinating homeless people living near St. Peter’s Square, part of charity work for the needy within the Vatican walls.
The first group was made up of about 25 individuals, and others will follow in coming days, said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
Those chosen to receive the vaccine first are currently housed in residences operated by the Church, and include Italians, Romanians and Georgians, all over age 60, according to Vatican News, the Holy See’s information portal.
Some were disabled, including one man in a wheelchair, who expressed satisfaction with the “extra security” provided by the vaccine, Vatican News reported.
Pope Francis, 84, has lobbied forcefully in favor of the vaccine against coronavirus, which has killed more than 83,000 people in Italy and at least two million worldwide.
Calling vaccines “glimmers of hope”, the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics has called for everyone, especially the most vulnerable and needy, to receive the vaccine.
Francis himself, and his predecessor, former pope Benedict XVI, 93, were vaccinated last week.
At Christmas, the Office of Papal Charities, led by Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski — who contracted the virus in December — provided some 4,000 Covid-19 tests for the homeless.
The campaign to vaccinate residents and Church employees within the small Vatican state began last week.