VATICAN CITY(NewsNation Now) — Pope Francis is adding his voice to a campaign to overcome vaccine skepticism, issuing a public service announcement insisting that vaccines are safe, effective and an “act of love.”
The video message released Wednesday is aimed at a global audience but directed particularly at the Americas. It features six cardinals and archbishops from North, Central and South America as well as the Argentine-born pope. It was produced by the Vatican and the Ad Council, which has produced a series of pro-vaccine ads in a bid to get more people vaccinated.
In his comments, Francis said: “Being vaccinated with vaccines authorized by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love.”
He added: “Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable.”
Francis had emphasized at the start of the pandemic the need to ensure equal access to the vaccine, especially for the poor. But faced with increasing skepticism about vaccines especially among religious conservatives, the Vatican has vowed an all-out effort to overcome hesitancy and encourage widespread vaccination.
A vaccine skeptical cardinal in Saint Louis made headlines when he ended up on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19.
The coronavirus has overall taken a heavy toll among Roman Catholic priests and nuns around the world, killing hundreds of them in a handful of the hardest-hit countries alone.
The dead include an Italian parish priest who brought the cinema to his small town in the 1950s; a beloved New York pastor who ministered to teens and the homeless; a nun in India who traveled home to bury her father after he died from COVID-19 only to contract the virus herself.
While COVID-19 cases have risen worldwide as the delta variant has become more prolific, vaccination rates have also risen globally.
4.8 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally with 31.8% of the global population receiving at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Our World in Data.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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