Pope Francis fronts Ad Council campaign urging followers to take the Covid-19 vaccine

Pope Francis has added his voice to those of health and government officials calling on people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in a bid to convince waverers and doubters to place their faith in science and encourage richer nations to send more vaccines to the poorest.

Why has Pope Francis got involved?

  • Arguing that receiving the vaccine isn’t just in your own best interest, but also humanity’s, Pope Francis is harnessing his moral authority to boost take-up and bring the pandemic to an end sooner rather than later.

  • In a video address delivered on behalf of the Ad Council and the Covid Collaborative, Pope Francis said: “Thanks to God’s grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19. They grant us the hope of ending the pandemic, but only if they are available to all and if we work together.

  • “Vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable. I pray to God that everyone may contribute their own small grain of sand, their own small gesture of love.”

  • The authoritative intervention comes amid an explosion of anti-vaxxer falsehoods and misrepresentations propagating on the internet, which have hit vaccination drives by sowing doubt and mistrust among the population.

  • This prompted the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative to seek ways to counter this narrative by issuing public service announcements across television, websites and social media.

  • The call comes amid alarm from health experts that allowing Covid-19 to circulate uncontrolled in the general population will only increase the risk of a new and more deadly variant emerging.

  • Leading by example, Pope Francis was himself vaccinated in March, describing the procedure as an ethical obligation for all.

  • Past efforts to combat anti-vaxxers have focused on the stick, with Facebook banning all anti-vaxxer ads – but not related content.