By Andy Drozdziak
Cardinal Vincent Nichols is reminding Catholics to follow Pope Francis and Jurgen Klopp’s advice to get vaccinated in the fight to battle the new Omicron variant.
During a Downing Street press conference, prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to receive booster vaccines after 78,610 confirmed cases were announced on 15th December, including cases of the new variant. This is the highest number of daily cases since mass testing began in summer 2020.
Cardinal Nichols said: “Please act quickly. Here is real protection, for yourself and for others. Get vaccinated! Get boosted!”
He added that he was adding his voice to that of the pope and the Liverpool manager.
“I add my voice to many others,” he said. “To the voice of Pope Francis who says to be vaccinated is ‘an act of love’. To the voice of my favourite football manager Jurgen Klopp in London this weekend: ‘The whole vaccination process is a question of solidarity, loyalty and togetherness’. He adds: ‘There is only one answer: ‘You do it.’”
Other Catholic leaders have added their voice to the call to be vaccinated. Bishop John Arnold urged anyone who is reluctant to come forward to receive the vaccine, referring to Catholics who have reservations because of the use of foetal cell lines in the development of COVID vaccines.
“The Church is clear that all Catholics can take any of the vaccines on offer with a clear conscience,” he said.
Bishop Arnold from the diocese of Salford also encouraged those in low-risk categories to receive the vaccine as a way of supporting those who are less healthy.
“Even if you are at a low risk of becoming seriously ill, being vaccinated will lower the risk of transmitting the virus to somebody else who might then have a severe reaction or even die,” he said.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned that the UK can expect several more weeks where Covid cases hit a record high, as Omicron continues its exponential rise across the country.
“I’m afraid we have to be realistic that records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks as the rates continue to go up,” he said.
“What we’ve got is two epidemics on top of one another – an existing Delta epidemic, roughly flat, and a very rapidly growing Omicron epidemic on top of it.”
As the Universe reported exclusively last week, the bishops believe that vaccination and following specific safety measures such as face coverings, hand sanitiser and good ventilation will enable worship to continue in churches over the Christmas period.
Bishop Arnold underlined the importance of vaccination for those who are making pastoral visits to vulnerable people. “It is particularly important that those in our parishes, clergy and lay-people who visit those who are housebound or otherwise vulnerable are vaccinated,” he said.
Picture: Mehdi Bolourian, Wikimedia Commons