Pope Francis, ex-pope Benedict get virus vaccines: Vatican

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Both Pope Francis and his predecessor, former pope Benedict XVI, have received the coronavirus vaccine, the Vatican said on Thursday.

"I can confirm that, as part of the Vatican City State vaccination programme to date, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus," spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

It had already been reported that Francis, 84, had received the jab on Wednesday, the first day of the Vatican's vaccination drive, but officials declined to confirm the news.

The Vatican News portal said Benedict, 93, was given a dose on Thursday morning.

The former pontiff, who stepped down in 2013 and now lives in a converted monastery in the Vatican gardens, is increasingly frail.

In an interview broadcast at the weekend, Francis urged people to get the vaccine.

"There is a suicidal denial which I cannot explain, but today we have to get vaccinated," he told Canale 5.

The Argentine is known for his love of being among his flock and has often been pictured without a mask.

But he has limited his interaction with the public since the virus first swept Italy early last year.

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