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Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is “an act of love,” Pope Francis says in a public service ad started circulating online and on television on Wednesday.
The ad shows the pope, speaking in Spanish with English subtitles, with church officials from Brazil, Mexico, the United States and other countries describing vaccination as a moral responsibility.
“Thanks to God’s grace and to the work of many, we now have vaccines to protect us from Covid-19,” the pope says in the ad, which was produced with the Ad Council, an American nonprofit.
In centers of faith, efforts to counter vaccine hesitancy have often been fraught.
Many religious Americans who are hesitant have told researchers that faith-based arguments could persuade them to get the shot.
Pastors in Black communities, where congregants skeptical of the Covid-19 vaccines cite a history of medical mistreatment, have publicly rolled up their sleeves to get inoculated. Orthodox Jewish rabbis have taken to YouTube and Zoom to endorse vaccination. During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslim groups issued statements emphasizing that the shots were halal, or permissible to use.
Still, the message from some religious leaders has struggled to counter vaccine misinformation. On WhatsApp, recordings of rabbis making unproven claims about the vaccines’ effects on fertility have circulated among Orthodox Jewish communities. And on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, some churches and Christian influencers have spread conspiracy theories linking vaccines to microchips or blaming those who get a shot for not trusting God’s will.
In other news around the world:
Japan announced late Tuesday that it was extending a state of emergency in Tokyo and Osaka and expanding it to seven additional prefectures as the country struggles to bring under control its worst outbreak of the pandemic. Nearly 20,000 new cases and 47 deaths were documented in Japan on Tuesday, with Osaka hitting a daily record of 1,856 cases and Tokyo reporting 4,377. The extension of the state of emergency in the capital, which had been scheduled to end on Aug. 31, means that the entire Paralympics, which start on Tuesday, will be held under the emergency declaration.