As vaccine development for COVID-19 continues to move forward, Catholic organizations are providing guidance for church members to discern their next steps. A new Gallup poll shows that 63% of Americans would get a vaccine if it were available today. Some are hesitant about the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine. But others have moral qualms.
The Regina Academies, an organization dedicated to classical Catholic education, hosted an online event with bioethicist John Brehany to help individuals learn more about the ethics of vaccine development. He explains the connection between vaccines and cells derived from abortions. "For years, and even to this day, scientists have used things like chick embryos," Brehany said. "They've also used other animal cells. But scientists need living cells and this is how we get to the issue of abortion derived cell lines." He adds that Catholic church guidance allows members to accept medical treatments with abortion-derived cell lines if there are no viable alternatives available and their participation could help protect the health of their community and themselves.
More than 300 participants attended the online seminar and asked several questions, including: what to do if their workplace required vaccination.
Brehany explained that Catholic guidance recommends church members make their protest of abortion cell usage clear to both manufacturers and suppliers if they choose to accept the treatment because numerous medical sources state the significant risks associated with this virus. "This is a very serious disease. The ICUs are full and people stay in the ICUs three times longer than normal and there's a lot of mortality, too. It's not necessarily only about you as an individual. So I think you have to think about that very seriously."
While initial work on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines used cells from aborted fetuses in an early lab tests, neither has used such cells for designing, developing or producing the vaccine. Several Catholic organizations and leaders have affirmed the two leading vaccines as morally acceptable.