The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis has received the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine. The pontiff has advocated that everyone should get the vaccine, calling it an “ethical option” performed not only for one’s own health but for the “lives of others.” The Vatican has beefed up coronavirus restrictions amid a spike in cases in Italy.

The 84-year-old pope, who is missing part of one lung since a surgery in his 20s, has been saying the traditional Angelus blessing from a library in the Apostolic Palace, and not a window overlooking St Peter’s, in a bid to prevent gatherings. The Vatican launched its vaccination program before administering the Pfizer vaccine.

Vatican City has had at least 27 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including a cluster among the Swiss Guards last fall. Having constantly supported the importance of receiving the vaccine The Pope has been calling for an equitable distribution of the jab.

The Vatican said that it was ''morally acceptable'' for Roman Catholics to receive Covid-19 vaccines based on research that used fetal tissue from abortions. A note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's watchdog office for doctrinal orthodoxy, said the use of such vaccines was permitted as long as there were no alternatives.

The doctrine office noted that bishops, Catholic groups, and experts have offered “diverse and sometimes conflicting pronouncements” on the matter.

Both the Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc vaccines have some connection to cell lines that originated with tissue from abortions in the last century, according to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which issued a separate note to American Catholics. The Vatican note said the granting of moral legitimacy was related to the principle "differing degrees of responsibility of cooperation in evil."

This meant that because the pandemic is such grave danger, such vaccines "can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that (it) does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in the production of the vaccines derive," the note said.