Archbishop of Canterbury vaccinated against Covid-19

Justin Welby receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in London.

The Most Rev Justin Welby received the jab on Saturday at St Thomas' Hospital, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson received life-saving treatment for coronavirus last year. 

In a message to the public, the Archbishop said he wanted to encourage everyone to get the vaccine.

"Staff across the NHS, and health workers across the world, are under immense pressure on the front lines of this pandemic," he said.

"They deserve not just our admiration but our support - and getting the vaccine when we have the opportunity is something we can all do to help relieve the burden on them."

He said that receiving the vaccine was one way of fulfilling the commandment from Jesus to love our neighbour. 

"The rapid development of the vaccine is an answer to prayer – and it is central to the recovery from this terrible pandemic," he said.

"Jesus Christ calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Getting the vaccine is part of that commandment: we can show our love for each other by keeping each other safe from this terrible disease.

"To everyone in this country and across the world, I want to say please, please accept the invitation to get the jab when it comes - and encourage everyone around you to do the same."

The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to a patient at St Thomas' in his role as chaplain.

The Archbishop was given the vaccine as a member of the chaplaincy team at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation. 

He has been a volunteer chaplain at St Thomas' throughout the pandemic, offering spiritual care and support to patients, staff and visitors. 

"It has been a privilege to volunteer at St Thomas' over the past year," the Archbishop added.

"Chaplains here and across the country are doing a vital job of providing spiritual and pastoral care to patients, staff and relatives at this acutely painful and difficult time.