The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and encouraged others to do the same. Calling the vaccine "an answer to prayer," Welby said that receiving the jab is part of Christ's call to "love our neighbour as ourselves".
"I want to encourage everyone to get the Covid-19 vaccine when they are invited," Welby said in a statement. "Staff across the NHS, and health workers across the world, are under immense pressure on the front lines of this pandemic. They deserve not just our admiration but our support - and getting the vaccine when we have the opportunity is something we can all do to help relieve the burden on them."
Welby received the vaccine due to his work as a volunteer chaplain at St Thomas' hospital in London. Early on in the pandemic, it emerged that Welby had been secretly volunteering as a chaplain to comfort the sick and dying.
"It has been a privilege to volunteer at St Thomas' over the past year," the Archbishop added. "Chaplains here and across the country are doing a vital job of providing spiritual and pastoral care to patients, staff and relatives at this acutely painful and difficult time."
Alongside the vaccine being an answer to prayer, Welby added that it was "central to the recovery from this terrible pandemic".
He continued: "Jesus Christ calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves. Getting the vaccine is part of that commandment: we can show our love for each other by keeping each other safe from this terrible disease.
"To everyone in this country and across the world, I want to say please, please accept the invitation to get the jab when it comes - and encourage everyone around you to do the same."