POPE FRANCIS has urged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, insisting that doing so is "an act of love".
In a public service announcement on Wednesday, the Pontiff stressed that the vaccines are safe and effective, and suggested that an individual would be doing his fellow man a service by accepting the jabs.
Francis' message addressed a global audience, but was aimed particularly at the Americas, where vaccine skepticism appears to be on the rise.
"Being vaccinated with vaccines authorise by the competent authorities is an act of love," he said in a video message.
"And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love. Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable," he added.
Francis has stressed for some months that vaccines must be distributed equally throughout the world so that vulnerable people in poor countries are not abandoned.
"Thanks to God and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19," he said.
"Vaccines bring hope to end the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we collaborate with one another."
It follows news that Irish-American Catholic Cardinal - and vaccine sceptic - Raymond Burke is in hospital in a serious condition after contracting Covid-19.
There had been concern among religious groups that accepting vaccines would be immoral, given that cells derived from aborted foetuses are often used in vaccine research, but the Vatican addressed this at the start of the pandemic, declaring that it was acceptable for Catholics to receive Covid-19 vaccines, no matter how they're created or produced.