Homeless get free Covid-19 vaccine, and a visit from the pope

free COVID-19 vaccine

Pope Francis visited homeless and needy people getting a free COVID-19 vaccine shot from his Vatican charity on Friday as he celebrated his name day, the feast of St. George.

The pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, spent about 30 minutes chatting with people who came to the Vatican for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccinations. Many of them were from the area around the Vatican.

Francis personally greeted those waiting for their shots in the atrium of the Vatican audience hall. He also met those who had just been vaccinated and were under observation in case of an allergic reaction.

About 600 of the 1,400 people who received the first dose several weeks ago got their second shot on Friday. The remaining 800 will get their second dose in the next few weeks.

As they sang and shouted “auguri” (best wishes) for his name day, he offered them food and sweets. This included a giant chocolate Easter egg that volunteers cracked open, giving him a piece.

Francis, who has been vaccinated, said getting a shot is the ethical choice unless there are medical reasons not to.

Under Francis, the Vatican has set up several structures to help Rome’s homeless population. These include a clinic, bathing facilities and hair-cutting services.

The Vatican also has begun a campaign that allows donors to contribute, via the website of the Vatican almoner’s office, the cost of a vaccine destined for people in poor countries.

Called “vaccino sospeso” (suspended vaccine), it takes its name from the tradition of the “caffe sospeso” in Naples whereby people leave money to pay for a coffee for a needy person whose identity is known only to the bartender.

Pope Francis also greeted the volunteers helping run the vaccine clinic. He encouraged them to continue with their commitment to the poor, the press office said.


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