The Most Rev Justin Welby said that getting the jab reduces the chances of illness being spread and that “it’s not about me and my rights to choose – it’s about how I love my neighbour”.
His comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that people could go ahead with their Christmas plans but there is “continuing uncertainty” about the severity of the fast-spreading Omicron variant and hospital admission rates.
Asked during an interview with ITV News At Ten if being vaccinated is a “moral issue”, the archbishop said: “I’m going to step out on thin ice here and say, yes, I think it is.”
He added: “A lot of people won’t like that, but I think it is because it’s not about me and my rights.
“Now obviously there are some people who, for health reasons, can’t be vaccinated – different question – but it’s not about me and my rights to choose.
“It’s about how I love my neighbour. Vaccination reduces my chances – doesn’t eliminate – but it reduces my chances of getting ill and reducing my chances of getting ill reduces my chances of infecting others. It’s very simple.
“So I would say yes, to love one another – as Jesus said – get vaccinated, get boosted.”
On whether it would be immoral not to get the jab when you are in a position to have it, Mr Welby said: “I understand why people don’t.”
He added: “But I would say, go and get boosted, get vaccinated. It’s how we love our neighbour. Loving our neighbour is what Jesus told us to do. It’s Christmas: do what he said.”
Figures from NHS England show that 1,904 people were in hospital in London with Covid-19 as of December 21, the highest number since March 2 and up 41% from a week earlier.
Across England, 6,902 patients were in hospital with Covid-19 on December 21 – the highest number since November 10 and up 7% week-on-week.
The archbishop said he felt “real disappointment and sadness” when he saw the photograph of Downing Street staff eating cheese and drinking wine in the No 10 garden during the first lockdown.
Mr Johnson said the image showed “people at work, talking about work” in May 2020.
The alleged gathering is one of a number which have been reported across Whitehall during coronavirus restrictions and an investigation led by senior civil servant Sue Gray has been launched.
Mr Welby said: “I thought that’s going to be more work for the person doing the investigation.
“I thought about the many people who will look at that and remember what they were doing on that day and the sorrow and sadness they felt on that day because of not being able to see someone or bereavement or the last time they saw someone they loved.
“I felt a whole load of emotions.”
The archbishop, who said he is “not quick to judge people” and is waiting for the outcome of the investigation, added that “part of this crisis is we need to support each other”.
It was also noted that the Queen, 95, has cancelled the traditional pre-Christmas lunch with her extended family and she is to spend her first Christmas since the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor rather than at Sandringham as a “precautionary” measure amid rising coronavirus cases.
Mr Welby said: “She’s had to curtail her own wishes for Christmas and she’ll have just done it because it’s the right thing to do – that’s the example to follow.”
He also hoped that cathedrals and churches would be busy on Christmas Day to help worshippers find much-needed “stability” and “resilience” as the venues have worked hard during the pandemic to make them safe places.
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