Pope Francis has called opposition to the coronavirus vaccine “suicidal denial” urging people to get the jab and saying he would get vaccinated himself next week.
“Next week, we will start to do it here (in the Vatican) and I made an appointment, we must do it,” he told Canale 5 in segments released on Saturday from an interview set to be broadcast the next day.
“There is a suicidal denial which I cannot explain, but today we have to get vaccinated,” the pontiff said.
Francis has sometimes come under criticism for not wearing a mask during the pandemic, and some have expressed concern that world leaders and other attendees at papal audiences could be putting him, or themselves, in danger.
The Vatican has insisted that social distancing measures and testing are employed to maintain safety, though some prelates, including cardinals, have tested positive for the virus within days of interacting with Francis.
The virus has forced Francis, who is energized by travel, to stay home during much of the past year, and the Vatican has had to cancel or severely limit even its most important celebrations. By presiding over ceremonies before a vast, empty St. Peter’s Square, the pope has underlined not only the way the virus has changed people’s daily lives, but also the life of the church.