Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI are vaccinated against Covid-19

Pope Francis greets his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Vatican.(Photo: Reuters/Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have taken the Covid-19 vaccination.

The Vatican commenced its rollout of the vaccination on Wednesday, with Pope Francis and Benedict receiving the jab. 

"I can confirm that as part of the vaccination program of the Vatican City State, as of today, the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and to the Pope Emeritus," said Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office.

Francis said earlier this week that having the vaccine was "ethical" and suggested that by not taking it, "you are gambling with your health, you are gambling with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others."

Some pro-life people have raised concerns about Covid-19 vaccines because of the link to abortion. 

Both Moderna and Pfizer tested their vaccines on fetal cells descended from a 1973 abortion in the Netherlands. 

The AstraZeneca vaccine was developed in part by growing a modified virus in cells derived from an abortion in the 1970s but the final product does not contain aborted cells. 

The Vatican has already clarified its position on taking such vaccines. 

In a statement issued late December, it argued that they were justified by the "grave danger" posed by Covid-19 and the lack of more ethical alternatives. 

"In this sense, when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available ... it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process," it said. 

"The moral duty to avoid such passive material cooperation [in evil] is not obligatory if there is a grave danger, such as the otherwise uncontainable spread of a serious pathological agent - in this case, the pandemic spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

"It must therefore be considered that, in such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive."

It added that taking the vaccine did not amount to a moral endorsement of abortion or using the cell lines from aborted fetuses. 

"Both pharmaceutical companies and governmental health agencies are therefore encouraged to produce, approve, distribute and offer ethically acceptable vaccines that do not create problems of conscience for either health care providers or the people to be vaccinated," it said.