Pope remembers COVID-19 victims on Vaccine Day

"My thoughts go in particular to the families who in recent months have lost a loved one or have been hit by the consequences of the pandemic," Francis said during his prayer that was held virtually from a lectern inside the Vatican as Italy is under a nation-wide lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

In the morning Italy kicked off vaccinations in Rome with health care workers lining up to take the first shots of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine. Francis praised their efforts in dealing with the virus.

"I am also thinking about doctors, nurses, and all health workers whose great commitment at the forefront of the fight against the spreading of the virus has had significant repercussions on their family life," the pontiff added.