Queen Elizabeth II
and her husband, Prince Philip, have received t h e i r covid-19 va cc i - n at i o n s , royal officials said Saturday. Buckingham Palace officials said in a statement that the 94-year-old monarch and Philip, 99, received their jabs Saturday, joining some 1.5 million people in Britain who have been given a first dose of a vaccine. The injections were administered at Windsor Castle, where the queen and her husband have been spending their time during the lockdown in England. Royal officials said they took the rare step of commenting on the monarch’s health in order to prevent inaccuracies and further speculation. The queen “decided that she would let it be known she has had the vaccination,” the palace statement said. On Dec. 8, Britain became the world’s first country to begin a mass vaccination drive against the coronavirus. The government says it is aiming to deliver the first vaccine doses to some 15 million people in the top priority groups by the middle of February. That includes everyone over age 70, as well as frontline health care workers, care home residents and anyone whose health makes them especially vulnerable to the virus.
In a forthcoming television interview, Pope Fra n c i s
says that he will soon receive a coronavir u s va ccination, p e rh a p s as early as this week, while calling the inoculation a duty for everyone. “I believe that ethically everyone needs to receive the vaccine,” Francis said in an interview with Italy’s TG5 that will air Sunday. Francis did not specify the exact timing of his inoculation, but the pontiff said the Vatican’s vaccine rollout will begin this week and that he had already booked an appointment. Francis’ plan sends a significant pro-vaccine signal to the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics. But it also marks a crucial step in safeguarding an 84-year-old who is missing part of a lung, doesn’t like to wear a mask and relishes face-to-face interaction. Medical experts say even those vaccinated should continue to wear masks. Vatican watchers had widely anticipated that Francis would be administered the jab, and he has spoken favorably for months about the international vaccine effort, calling it a light of hope “in this time of darkness.” Until now, though, the Vatican had remained vague on its vaccine plans for the pope. The Holy See said only that its campaign would first target the elderly, medical personnel, and those most in contact with the public. The Vatican’s health director said the city-state would be using the vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. The journalist who conducted the Friday interview of the pope, Fabio Marchese Ragona, shared a passage of the transcript with The Washington Post.