Vatican staff who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 could be sacked under a decree made public by the city state, which employs around 5,000 people.
An employee must have a documented medical reason for refusing a jab or face “consequences of various degrees which may go as far as the termination of employment,” according to the decree from Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
The document, which cites a 2011 Vatican law, also concerns job applicants, saying the Holy See may not hire them if they refuse to be vaccinated.
“Refusing vaccination could also be a risk for others (and) seriously increase risks to public health,” it says.
The same document also details fines of between €25 and €50 euros for failing to wear a mask or to observe social distancing, and up to €1,500 for breaking quarantine rules.
At 108 acres the Vatican is the world’s smallest state, and while some of the employees live within the walled city most live in Italy and enter the Vatican daily.
Pope Francis has described the Covid-19 vaccine as “an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others”.
The Vatican began vaccinating its employees for free last month. Pope Francis, 84, and his 93-year-old predecessor Pope emeritus Benedict XVI have both received the shots.
The Vatican has also made a Covid-19 vaccination obligatory for journalists accompanying Pope Francis on his trip to Iraq next month.
Cardinal Bertello (78), who signed the decree, tested positive for coronavirus in December and went into self-isolation. There have been fewer than 30 cases of coronavirus in Vatican City, most of them among the Swiss Guard, who live in a communal barracks.