J&J and COVID-19: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?
In the midst of the push to vaccinate the population against COVID-19, Johnson & Johnson recently announced emergency FDA approval for the Janssen single-dose vaccine. Happily welcomed at first, it soon became known that, unlike the two-dose shots currently being used, the J&J vaccine employed fetal tissue from an abortion in the 1970s for both its development and testing. This presents a difficult moral dilemma, one that even leaders in the Catholic Church are not yet fully prepared to respond due to the rapidity of the development and the full moral weight of the choice: to recommend the vaccine for reception by the faithful or not.
Given the speed that this development has occurred, the range of responses from individual bishops has been quite varied, although the general stance has followed the formal statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (found at
). The bishops of Pittsburgh, St. Augustine, and St. Louis have affirmed the USCCB statement to their own flocks. Some bishops, such as Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, have released statements encouraging people not to delay in accepting any vaccination available to them. The Archdiocese of New Orleans and diocese of Baton Rouge, while not prohibiting Catholics from receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if no other ethical alternative is available, have advised Catholics to seek out the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines if possible. Bishop David Kagan of Bismark, North Dakota released a statement March 2 which took a harder line than the USCCB at large, effectively prohibiting Catholics in the diocese from accepting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In the United States, vaccines are being federally allocated, and the amounts of each of the three COVID-19 vaccines available varies from state to state. Experts have said it is unlikely that patients will be able to choose which vaccine they will be able to get.
So, what to do? For people who are asking me, I am going to recommend (which Bishop O'Connell of Trenton has also suggested) the USCCB statement. As Bishop Kevin Rhoades of South Bend says, "What’s most important is that people get vaccinated. It can be an act of charity that serves the common good. At the same time, as we bishops have already done, it’s really important for us to encourage development of vaccines that do not use abortion-derived cell lines. This is very important for the future.”
As difficult as it might be for the moment, make every effort to get an appointment as soon as possible. Ask what vaccination is being offered; if it is the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine, well and good. If it is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine continue to get vaccinated, both for your own good and for the benefit of those around you. However, stress as strongly as possible - and, when such vaccines are available in the private sector through your doctor,
- that the morally-acceptable vaccines be made available. In these extreme times, as much as we would like to have such moral issues presented in a straightforward manner, circumstances may - at least temporarily - require consideration of all factors to make the best moral choice that we can.
Receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community. In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.
USCCB Statement, Committee for Pro-Life and Doctrine, 12/14/2020
A review of our Mass and sacramental schedule for this weekend:
in the Rectory Chapel
a congregation, in-church Communion during Mass (
outdoor Communion afterwards)
- Third Sunday of Lent
- Mass Live streamed
a congregation. Outdoor Communion will be available afterwards and radio reception available in the parking lot at 107.7FM.
Please note that outdoor Communion will end
a congregation, in-church Communion during Mass (
outdoor Communion afterwards) PLEASE NOTE: While making a reservation is
required, we are encouraging people to do so; this way you can be assured of having a seat. We have noticed that in-church attendance is steadily increasing and, in anticipation that we may reach capacity at weekend Masses, we have prepared the Church Hall for social distancing and live-streaming the Mass from upstairs. When needed, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will bring the Blessed Sacrament so that people in the Church Hall can receive Communion during Mass.
o access TAKE YOUR PLACE AT TABLE and/or to volunteer to help our Liturgical Environment Ministry in parking, seating or cleaning, please visit our parish website at
Those without Internet access (and please let your friends and neighbors know!) can call
Sunday 9AM Live-stream Mass
Not yet ready to return to the church building?
WE UNDERSTAND and will continue to offer live streamed Mass on Sundays at 9AM with outdoor Communion available in the church parking lot. See this weekend's Mass on YouTube at
Fr. Ed Blanchett
on Friday, March 5 at 3:00PM