The Vatican has warned its employees that they risk losing their jobs if they refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 without having serious health reasons.
A decree issued by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, who is the President of the Governorate of Vatican City State, said that the vaccine was a “responsible choice” since there was a risk of infecting and harming other people.
Vatican City has several thousand employees, most of whom live in Italy. The vaccination campaign began last month, and Pope Francis, 84 years old, was among the first people to be vaccinated.
The decree stipulates that those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons may be transferred to another post, where they will come in contact with fewer people but they will be receiving the same salary, despite the fact that the new position may be lower than the one they held before.
The decree, however, stipulates that those who refuse to get the vaccine without a reason will be subject to a special provision of a 2011 law concerning the rights and obligations of workers.
This article of the law stipulates that employees who refuse to obey “precautionary measures” are likely to be subject to “consequences that may lead to dismissal”.
The decree was signed on the 8th of February and then posted on the government website.
Pope Francis is in favour of vaccines as a means of stemming the spread of the coronavirus. Pope Francis said in a TV interview last month: “It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”
The Vatican has made vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for journalists accompanying Pope Francis on his trip to Iraq next month.
Giuseppe Bertello, who signed the decree, tested positive for coronavirus in December and, therefore, was isolated.
Less than 30 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Vatican City and most of them are members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.