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Swiss Guards at the Vatican. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

Three members of the Vatican's Swiss Guard have voluntarily left the corps after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, defying the Vatican's mandate, AP reports.

Driving the news: Last week, the Vatican ordered all employees to get vaccinated or submit to testing, with the new policy going into effect on Oct. 1.

  • Employees unable to provide proper documentation will be considered "unjustly absent" and receive no salary.

The big picture: The Swiss Guards have been asked to be vaccinated "to protect their health and that of the others they come into contact with as part of their service," Lt. Urs Breitenmoser, a spokesperson for the Swiss Guard, told AP.

  • "Three members of the Guard have chosen not to adhere to that request, voluntarily leaving the corps,″ he added. The three guards have returned to Switzerland.
  • Three other members have been temporarily suspended as they await their vaccinations
  • Pope Francis, who was vaccinated in January, has campaigned for people to get the shots, calling it an "act of love."

Go deeper

Jan 7, 2022 - Health

COVID hospitalizations surge in children too young for vaccine

A medical worker puts on a mask before entering a negative pressure room with a COVID-19 patient in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center on Jan. 4. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Hospitalizations of children under 5 have reached their highest levels since the COVID-19 pandemic began, AP reports.

Why it matters: Children under 5 are the only age group ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, highlighting the need for those that are eligible to get vaccinated to protect young children, according to Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, per AP.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker