A question we’re frequently hearing, unsurprisingly, is, “When will a morally acceptable vaccine be available?”
NYS Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Professionals
Updated 8/26/21 at 2030 – The reason for the lack of clarity had now been made clear. It seems that NYS never intended to allow for religious exemptions in the first place.
On August 16 Governor Cuomo issued a proclamation that all healthcare works in NYS will be mandated to be vaccinated no later than September 27th. With respect to exemptions to this mandate, the statement reads, “…a policy mandating employee vaccinations, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons.”
On August 23, the University of Rochester published their understanding of the mandate:
UR Medicine leadership participated in a call last week with New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) representatives to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo last Monday. At this time, the Medical Center’s understanding is that the mandate will apply to everyone who works within a licensed health care facility. This means that all faculty, staff, and students who work or study in a patient care facility (inpatient, outpatient, and procedure areas) will be required to receive a first dose of the vaccine by the state’s September 27 deadline; testing is no longer an available option per NYSDOH. It also appears that the state will approve limited criteria for medical or religious exemptions. (emphasis added)
Unlike student exemptions (U of R’s exemption process is here, see below for their exemption form) it appears that it will be the New York State government itself that will be directly handling requests for exemptions. However, the process for such requests is unclear.
One thing we would like to make/keep clear is the official stance of the Catholic Church on this contentious issue. From the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith’s Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines (promulgated 12/21/2020)
3...It must therefore be considered that, in such a case, all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive. It should be emphasized, however, that the morally licit use of these types of vaccines, in the particular conditions that make it so, does not in itself constitute a legitimation, even indirect, of the practice of abortion, and necessarily assumes the opposition to this practice by those who make use of these vaccines....
5. At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.
To be clear, the Finger Lakes Guild fully submits to the prudential judgement of the Church that the currently-available vaccines, while not ideal from a moral standpoint, are acceptable under the circumstances of this pandemic.
At the same time, the Guild also stands by those individuals who, as a matter of conscience, are unable to accept vaccination with any of the currently-available options due to the connection to abortion.
Finally, in accordance with paragraph 5 from the CDF’s Note, we oppose the Governor’s sweeping mandate that effectively makes vaccination non-voluntary for healthcare workers by forcing a choice between either violating their conscience or losing their job.
Please share any thoughts, questions, etc. with us here. We will do our best to stay abreast of this rapidly evolving policy from the Governor.
As a faithful Catholic, can I obtain a religious exemption from accepting COVID vaccination?
Excellent question! To some extent, it appears to depend on where you live. There is significant disagreement even among Bishops on this topic. In particular, the Archdiocese of New York has said that their diocesan priests are not to endorse such exemptions, while the Bishops of Colorado have gone so far as to provide a template for requesting just such an exemption.
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Vaccines
With the news of the impending approval of COVID vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson we wanted to briefly address the moral issues related to these specific vaccines.
We want to stress that the conclusions reached by the Vatican on the permissibility of using any morally-compromised vaccines do apply to these two new vaccines as well. So, each faithful Catholic who is considering receiving any of these vaccines should consider two points: the effectiveness of the vaccine and the degree of moral compromise.
Effectiveness: It appears that these two new vaccines are not more effective than from Pfizer and Moderna (and may actually be less effective, see also here, and here). At the same time, no vaccine has thus far been found to have more adverse reactions than another. Therefore, from a strictly scientific standpoint, Pfizer and Moderna would be preferred over AstraZeneca or J&J.
Moral Compromise: According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s information these two new vaccines from AstraZeneca and J&J are significantly more morally compromised than those made by Pfizer or Moderna. This is due to the fact that both AstraZeneca’s and J&J’s vaccines use abortion-derived cell lines in all three phases of production (Design/Development, Production, and Confirmatory Testing).
These two points argue for Pfizer or Moderna and against AstraZeneca or J&J asfaithful Catholics should, when able, choose the least compromised vaccine available.
–Please note that this is not medical advice and if there is a medical reason that a specific vaccine, regardless of its moral standing, would pose a risk to your health, please follow your doctor’s advice!–
Frequently Asked Questions
Do COVID-19 vaccinations have “body parts” from aborted babies?
- This is a question we’ve been receiving frequently. The answer is “No,” none of the vaccines contain any physical material taken directly from an aborted baby. Rather, those vaccines with some association with abortion use cells derived from aborted babies. This means specific types of cells from an aborted baby have been cultured (i.e., “grown”) in a laboratory, most since the 1970’s or 1980’s.
- From a physical standpoint, this is different than something like, for example, a bone marrow transplant. In that case, it is the actual cells from the donor that are physically injected into the recipient’s blood stream.
- In the case of COVID-19 vaccines it is, however, true that those cells being grown in culture are morally linked to that aborted baby. It is this fact that is at issue in the discussions currently taking place and is addressed in our statement on this issue.