Bishop Taylor addresses vaccine options

Published: March 3, 2021

En Español

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor addressed the following letter, March 3, 2021, to the people of the Diocese of Little Rock regarding the available COVID-19 vaccines.

"The following statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops addresses concerns that many have regarding the available COVID-19 vaccines:

'The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines.

'Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns.

'The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that ‘when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.’

'However, if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.

'While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the worldwide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.'

"In practical terms, here in Arkansas we are not currently given a choice regarding which vaccine to receive — each place has only one option to offer. Therefore, unless this changes, Catholics here can — and, in the interest of the common good, should — receive whichever vaccine is offered, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"If for reasons of personal conscience any Catholic refuses a vaccine when it becomes available, that person has a moral obligation to do their utmost to avoid becoming a vehicle of transmission to others, especially the most vulnerable.

"Sincerely in Christ,
+Anthony B. Taylor
Bishop of Little Rock"