Over the past few weeks, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (also known as Janssen) has been rolled out, to join the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, to help to eliminate the COVID pandemic. The positives for this latest vaccine are that it can be refrigerated and that it only requires one shot.
Concerns have been raised within the Pro-Life community about the vaccines’ relationship to abortion. Some bishops have expressed concern about this connection, and have stated that Catholics cannot receive this vaccine in good conscience. Is that the Church’s position?
All three of the vaccines, unfortunately, do have a connection to abortion. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines used cell lines from aborted fetuses in the experimental phase of development, but the vaccines themselves do not have a direct link to abortion. Although the abortion connection is very concerning, the Church has said that Catholics can take these vaccines.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine not only used abortion-related cell lines in the experimental phase, but the vaccine itself was developed from such abortion-related cell lines. This makes this vaccine more morally problematic.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has stated that because of this connection to abortion, if a less problematic vaccine is available, such as Pfizer and Moderna, they should be chosen. If they are not, or if there is some other compelling reason for not taking them, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be used. This is a moral decision based on the “lesser of two evils,” the two evils being the connection with abortion and not getting vaccinated.
We all have a duty to be vaccinated in order to help put this crisis behind us.