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Everything You Need to Know About Catholics and COVID-19 Vaccines

There is a lot of uncertainty among Catholics about the safety, efficacy, and morality of receiving the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available in the United States. Here are some of the best resources we have found to help answer all of your questions.

Dr. Michael Deem from Duquesne University joined Al and took your calls on COVID-19
Al Kresta addressed Ave Maria Radio’s coverage of the COVID-19 vaccines on Kresta in the Afternoon.
Al Kresta explains why he doesn’t interview some critics of the COVID-19 vaccines on Kresta in the Afternoon.
Kresta in the Afternoon, 17 Mar 2021, Segment 4-1
Kresta in the Afternoon, 31 Mar 2021, Segment 4-1


Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe?

We have heard from many people who have concerns about the Pfizer and Modern vaccines because they are not traditional vaccines. It is true that these are the first mRNA vaccines to be approved in the United States. However, it is important to note that mRNA vaccines have been used in clinical trials in the past with no long term side effects.

There are actually quite few ingredients in these vaccines. This video, produced by Duke University, explains the ingredients in mRNA vaccines and why they are safe.

Here are some quick answers to some questions you may have:

Did these vaccines skip clinical trials so they would be approved faster?
No. They progressed through trials much faster than normal because they much more funding from the government and other sources than other clinical trials. Some have claimed animal testing was skipped. This process was not; it was conducted simultaneously with Phase 1 clinical trials on humans. No steps in the process were skipped.

If I am pregnant or breastfeeding, can I still take the vaccine?
Yes. mRNA vaccines do not contain the live virus. The only cause for concern may be normal immune responses such as fever or nausea. There is no evidence to suggest the mRNA vaccine adversely affects a pregnant woman or unborn child.

Do the vaccines prevent me from getting infected with COVID-19?
Yes. New CDC data has shown that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 80% effective at preventing infection (not just severe illness as previously thought) two weeks after the first dose and 90% effective two weeks after the second dose in real world conditions.

Dr. Cameron Wolfe, Duke Health infectious disease specialist, explains the safety of mRNA vaccines.

Do mRNA vaccines change your DNA?
No. mRNA is essentially a piece of instructions for your cell. It never enters the nucleus where your DNA is.

I read on the internet that this is gene therapy. Is that true?
No. Gene therapy involves introducing DNA into your cells. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines. They do not include DNA. They do, however, include RNA which is essentially a piece of instructions for your cell. It does not alter your DNA.

Haven’t the vaccines caused some people to die?
No. Some have claimed without evidence that there have been deaths linked to people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS) has had many reports of some reactions. A report in VAERS, however, does not mean that the event was caused by the vaccine. All vaccines have many reports, including death. The CDC and FDA investigates these reports and have not found any pattern that calls into question the overall safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine the mark of the beast?
No, for many reasons. Jimmy Akin answered this on Catholic Answers Live.

What about all the doctors that say you shouldn’t take it?
Some listeners have written to ask to ask about specific doctors and why we do not have them on our show to share their opinions. The bottom line is that most of them are not qualified to talk about COVID-19 or vaccines. Al Kresta explained this on Kresta in the Afternoon (you can listen above).
It is important to remember to always discuss decisions about your health with your own doctor.

Read more: COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Vs. Fiction: An Expert Weighs in on Common Fears – University of California San Francisco

Read more: Anti-Vaccine Activists Peddle Theories That Covid Shots Are Deadly, Undermining Vaccination – Kaiser Health News


Are the COVID-19 vaccines moral?

This question is a little bit more complicated but the bottom line is this: the Church has said Catholics can take the vaccines that are currently approved in the US (this currently includes Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson). However, when a choice is given, one should choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

But I thought these vaccines were connected to abortions?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines did not use any cell lines connected to an abortion in their development. However, they both used the HEK-293 cell line, duplicated from an abortion in the 1970s, in their confirmatory testing. This is why the USCCB has said that these vaccines have a “very remote” connection to abortion.

(Read the USCCB Dec. 2020 statement on vaccines and the CDF Dec. 2020 statement on vaccines.)

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine used the PER-C6 cell line, which was duplicated from an abortion in the 1980s, in both its production and testing. This is why the Bishops have said that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are better options for the faithful. However, if you are not given a choice when receiving a vaccine, you may receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
(Read the USCCB Mar. 2021 statement on the J&J vaccine.)

Find more helpful information here:

The ultimate Catholic coronavirus vaccine morality explainer – Pillar Catholic

Clarity for Catholics: It’s OK to get Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine – if it’s the only one available – USA Today

Bishops and vaccines: Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated? – Pillar Catholic

Is allowing vaccines connected to abortion a new development from the Vatican?

No, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the document Dignitas Personae in 2008 and in it the CDF says there are certain instances when receiving a vaccine that has a remote connection to an abortion is morally acceptable.
(Read Dignitas Personae.)

The most common example of this is the Rubella vaccine. This vaccine used cell lines derived from an abortion in the 1960s. However, the suffering caused by complications from Rubella in children who contract the virus is serious. So, to promote the common good and to keep Rubella from spreading, parents can vaccinate their children with this vaccine.

(Read the National Catholic Bioethics Center article about abortion and vaccines.)

In the case of COVID-19, the Holy See and the USCCB argue that receiving the vaccine promotes the common good by curbing the spread of the virus. While it is true most people will not die from COVID-19, there are many of our brothers and sisters who are at high risk for severe illness. Recent studies have shown that the vaccines are helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19. That being said, Catholics are not morally obligated to get a vaccine, but those who refuse a vaccine must participate in other measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

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