In a seven-page decree, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, head of the commission governing Vatican City State, said that getting the jab was “the responsible choice” and that those who refuse to do so could risk termination.
The guideline points to a 2011 law which stipulates that employees who refuse “preventive measures” could be disciplined.
The new policy will allow people with legitimate health reasons to forgo the shot, but such personnel might be reassigned to positions that would have contact with fewer people. Their pay would remain the same even if the new assignment is a demotion.
Bertello himself tested positive for COVID-19 in December and was quarantined in his apartment until he was cleared to return to his regular duties.
Vatican City State, the world’s smallest independent nation-state, has a population of around 800 people, but employs more than 4,000 people.
Pope Francis has been an outspoken proponent of global vaccine drives against the virus.
In an interview last month, the pontiff said that getting the shot was an “ethical choice” because “you are gambling with your health… [and] also gambling with the lives of others.”
However, none of the vaccines currently on the market have undergone studies showing that they prevent transmission or slow the spread of the virus.
Francis received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech drug a day after the Vatican began its vaccination program on January 13. He received his second shot in early February.
The Pope has slammed apprehension about COVID-19 vaccines as “suicidal denial” and has suggested that it’s everybody’s duty to take the jab. Some Catholics have objected to the shot because tissue from aborted fetuses was used in their development, but the Vatican has insisted that the jabs are still “morally acceptable.”
The leader of the Catholic Church has been similarly outspoken about his support for controversial lockdown measures.
In January, he scolded people who traveled abroad during the holiday season to escape COVID-19 restrictions, accusing them of being irresponsible and only thinking about “having fun.”
Many other countries around the world have made it clear that people who refuse to be vaccinated will face retribution. In Israel, for example, the government has said that those who decline the jab will be restricted to “supermarkets and pharmacies.”