COVID-19 Vaccines: Some Considerations

Deacon Scott Maentz Parish News


Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,

As you may know, there are currently hundreds of vaccines under development worldwide to help people avoid contracting COVID-19. Of these, over a dozen are in the final stages of testing. This letter intends to help us all be well-informed as to the moral and ethical considerations. This is particularly important as it pertains to tissue from aborted unborn children in vaccine research and vaccine production.

My purpose here is NOT to tell you what to do. You must follow your conscience. This letter and the attached information are intended to help you make your decision with a well-informed conscience when deciding to receive a given COVID-19 vaccine.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center provides a thorough overview of the three general types of vaccines under development in their statement entitled “Points to Consider on the Use of COVID-19 Vaccines”.

I quote:

COVID-19 Vaccines and Aborted Fetal Cell Lines

1) Some pharmaceutical companies DO NOT USE abortion-derived cell lines IN ANY PHASE OF DESIGN, MANUFACTURE, OR TESTING;

2) Vaccines by other companies do not use abortion-derived cell lines in the manufacturing process but used an aborted fetal cell line at one point in development and testing (e.g., Pfizer-BioNtech); and

3) Still others USE abortion-derived cell lines in more than one phase of development and, in the manufacturing process.”

It is the assessment of the NCBC that Catholics “must carefully discern whether or when to receive COVID-19 immunization. If you decide to receive a vaccination, which vaccine should you accept? Based on the moral principles, guidance, and facts outlined above, the NCBC concludes that none of the vaccines currently in development is excluded or forbidden in principle, depending on the circumstances that prevail. However, the NCBC holds there is a clear ethical hierarchy among vaccines.”

I encourage you to read the NCBC article carefully so that your decision is well-informed regarding COVID-19 vaccines. In its statement, the NCBC provides a reference to Church documents and information regarding the use of medicines containing cell-lines of illicit origin. While the Church does not explicitly require Catholics to abstain from using these vaccines, it does remind us of our duty to advocate for and to use alternatives whenever possible. You may also find the attached vaccine analysis helpful.

This letter is not intended to discourage anyone from receiving a vaccine. To be sure, I plan to receive a vaccination once it becomes available, using this information to ensure I have done so in the most ethical way.

May the Lord continue to guide and protect us during this pandemic as we look forward to his coming at Christmastide.

In the love of our Lord,
Fr. Bill McNeeley

Download PDF of the NCBC Article, “Points to Consider on the Use of COVID-19 Vaccines”