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Vatican: No punishment for those who refuse Covid-19 vaccine
A nurse administers a Covid-19 vaccine
19 February 2021. The Vatican City State Governorate releases a statement explaining a recent decree on the need to vaccinate employees who work in public-facing jobs, saying the directive seeks to strike a balance between protecting the community and an individual’s freedom of choice.

By Vatican News

The Governorate of Vatican City State issued a statement on Thursday regarding the issue of Covid-19 vaccinations within the Vatican.

It follows on the heels of the Decree of the President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State No. 398, issued on 8 February on the subject of health emergencies.

The Decree, reads the note, "was issued to provide an urgent regulatory response to the primary need to safeguard and guarantee the health and well-being of employees, citizens, and residents of Vatican City State. The presupposition, therefore, is that of protecting the individual employee and the working environment, in the case of the event that a public health emergency could be set off .”

“In particular,” continues the statement, “the provision concerns all the appropriate measures aimed at preventing, tracking, and dealing with unique situations of a public health emergency. At the same time, it lays out all the instruments required for an adequate and proportional response to the health risk.”

Taking stock of risks posed by vaccine refusal

The Vatican statement also specifies that certain jobs may require vaccination.

“Among these measures indicated by the State Health Authority, it may be deemed necessary to resort to vaccination for certain contexts: in work activities related to service to the public, interactions with third parties, or those posing risks to the safety of other employees. Voluntary adherence to a vaccination program must, therefore, take into account the risk that any refusal by a person concerned may pose a risk to him or herself, to others, and to the working environment.”

For this reason, reads the statement, “protecting the community may include — for those who refuse vaccination in the absence of health reasons — the adoption of measures that both minimizes the danger at issue and allows alternative work solutions to be found for the interested party.”

Intent to protect community, not to punish

The Vatican Governorate statement goes on to recall previous regulations which pertain to the issue.

Those in question include the “Norms for the protection of the dignity of the person and their fundamental rights to be observed in health checks in view of hiring and throughout employment” and the “Norms for the protection of employees with certain serious diseases or with particular psychophysical conditions” of 18 November 2011. The note states that this health regulation should be considered a “tool that is neither sanctioning or punitive in nature in any case”.

Rather, it concludes, it is “intended to allow a flexible and proportionate response while striking a balance between protecting collective health and individual freedom of choice, without being oppressive for the employee.”