Feb. 18, 2021
ROME (AP) — The Vatican is taking Pope Francis’ pro-vaccine stance very seriously: Any Vatican employee who refuses to get a coronavirus shot without a valid medical reason risks being fired.
A Feb. 8 decree signed by the governor of the Vatican city-state says that employees who opt out of vaccination without a proven medical reason could be subject to a sanction up to and including “the interruption of the relationship of employment.”
The directive cited the need to protect Vatican employees in the workplace, as well as guidelines issued by Francis’ advisory COVID-19 commission, which said individuals have a moral responsibility to get vaccinated “given that refusing a vaccine can constitute a risk for others.”
The decree sparked heated debate Thursday, since its provisions go well beyond the generally voluntary nature of COVID-19 vaccinations in Italy and much of the rest of the world. The Vatican is an absolute monarchy in the heart of Rome that operates independently of Italian law and Italian labor protections.
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