AN IRISH priest has urged his parishioners to “act with great caution” when it comes to taking a vaccine against Covid-19.
There have been more than 4,300 deaths as a result of the coronavirus that has swept through much of the world over the past 12 months.
However, Fr Ted Sheehan of Glounthaune in Cork believes take-up of one of the growing number of vaccines designed to protect against the virus and stop its spread is a matter of “individual choice.”
According to the Irish Examiner, Fr Sheehan used his Sunday Mass service to express scepticism over the safety of the vaccines on offer.
He said: "Now, I'm not promoting the taking of the vaccine or the not taking of the vaccine, I think it's an individual choice for people.
"But I certainly would be worried that the Pharma companies that are producing the vaccines have no legal responsibility if anything goes wrong, so I think it should be a red flag for most right-thinking people."
Fr Sheehan claimed “other issues” needed to be examined before the public can “be forced” into taking vaccines of this kind.
The Irish priest said: "This medicine is supposed to be there to help us and to keep us safe, so if they're not 100% sure or at least 99% sure what's in the vaccine, then people should act with great caution."
Fr Sheehan also used the address to hit out at Pope Francis after it emerged that the Pontiff had issued a letter to Vatican employees warning they could be demoted or lose their jobs if they refused to take a Covid-19 vaccine.
Commenting on the plans, Fr Sheehan said that the approach "doesn't seem to be very Christian."
While the Vatican has since sought to clarify that “alternative solutions” would be available to those opposed to receiving a vaccine, the Pope has been unequivocal in his stance.
“I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine. It is not an option, 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,” Pope Francis said in an interview with Italy’s Canale 5 back in January.
He has already received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine.
UPDATE: In a statement issued by the Diocese of Cork and Ross on behalf of Bishop Fintan Gavin, Fr Ted Sheehan has since apologised if his remarks "caused offence or may cause confusion about the Catholic teaching" on vaccination.