Johnson & Johnson vaccine causes moral dilemma for Catholic community

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 5:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a decision that’s raising eyebrows, Hawaii’s Catholic churches are urging their parishioners not to take the new one-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ― if they have an option.

“If you have a choice about vaccinations, certainly choose the less morally compromised, which are the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines,” said Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva.

Other bishops across the US have taken a similar stance. They’re asking Catholics to choose Pfizer or Moderna.

Meanwhile, the Vatican has said that “it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses” in the research and production process when “ethically irreproachable” vaccines aren’t available to the public.

[Read more: Abortion concerns prompt archdiocese warning on vaccine]

The statements have created a moral dilemma for Hawaii’s nearly 300,000 Catholics who are also being reminded to consider the greater good.

“My advice to them would be to consider it carefully, the fact that this is a public health crisis and the more people who are vaccinated, the faster this crisis will pass,” said Silva.

Hawaii is expecting its first shipment of 12,000 Johnson and Johnson doses this week. So far, the state says more than 15% of all Hawaii residents have received at least one vaccine.

Epidemiologist Dr. DeWolfe Miller says regardless of the origin of the vaccines, all three brands have proven safe and effective.

“We know that there is a problem with hesitancy and we’re finding many different ways to address it,” said Dr. DeWolfe Miller. “I can just assure them that the ingredients used in Johnson and Johnson or any of the other vaccines are incredibly safe and effective.”

Silva admits this may deter some Catholics from getting vaccinated all together. He is urging the faithful to have faith in the public health campaign.

“Yes, I think there are people who will feel that way and that’s fine,” he said. “We have to go by our conscience and if that is something that they feel they cannot do, then they cannot do.”

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