Admittedly not a big fan of needles and injections, Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski winced as he was among the first South Floridians and became possibly the first US bishop to receive a Covid-19 vaccination.
Florida public health officials administered Covid-19 vaccinations on 16th December at St. John’s Nursing Center, located near Fort Lauderdale on the north campus of Catholic Health Services of the Archdiocese of Miami.
It marked the start of a vaccination campaign that will initially extend to thousands of state health care workers, first responders and staff at nursing homes and other residential care facilities.
St John’s staff and nursing home residents were offered the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, which the US Food and Drug Administration authorised for emergency use on 11th December.
“I am always afraid of needles, and as a typical guy, I am not made for pain,” Archbishop Wenski chuckled before being screened for and then injected with a dose of the vaccine in the lobby of St John’s Nursing Center.
The archbishop said he was there to set an example that the vaccination effort is a public good and a morally acceptable way for Catholics to help combat Covid-19.
“I wanted to show today, first of all, that we have confidence in the vaccine and that we don’t have any ethical concerns about the vaccine,” Archbishop Wenski told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan newspaper. “Hopefully, my stepping up will encourage other people to get the vaccine as it becomes available to them.”
“The bishops of the United States have issued a very detailed explanation of why we have no ethical concerns about these particular vaccines and we will encourage everyone to access them,” he said.
“Even people who might not have much to fear from infection – if they are not high risk and if they are healthy or if their demographic age is such that they would expect to recover easily – the fact that they would get vaccinated is a benefit to others around them so that they might not be responsible for others catching the virus,” the archbishop said.
Picture: Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami receives the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on 16th December 2020, at St John’s Nursing Center for Care & Rehab in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a part of Catholic Health Services of the Archdiocese of Miami. Archbishop Wenski said he is encouraging coronavirus vaccinations as morally ethical and a public good as the pandemic continues to rage. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy).