Like all religions, Christianity is a complex, heterogenous entity consisting of dozens of denominations with unique beliefs. Perspectives on vaccination and healthcare vary widely across denominations and nationalities, and it would be nearly impossible to list every denomination's view on vaccines here. We have highlighted a few of the major denominations, or ones found most widely in our St. Louis community, but we are inevitably missing many.
One resource where you can learn more about vaccination from a Christian perspective is www.christiansandthevaccine.com, which address concerns around vaccination. The group’s founder, Curtis Chang, said that the group’s mission is “to help Christians think Biblically about the vaccine. To be upfront, we do make the case that Christians should indeed take the vaccine, and do so for important Biblical reasons. However, we take seriously the doubts that many have, especially the doubts that are related to faith. There already is a great deal of information available online that presents the scientific reasons to take the vaccine. Our series is focused more on the Biblical reasons to do so."
Chang went on to emphasize the role that trust plays in Christian life at large and in vaccination specifically. He noted, “In practically every facet of our life, we have to regularly trust experts and institutions to navigate life. And here is the important Biblical principle: that is a good thing! God designed us to trust. God designed us to trust institutions and experts. This was true in the way God designed the society of Israel to trust kings, prophets and judges. This was true in the Great Commission of the New Testament, when Jesus entrusted the gospel to his original disciples. The disciples were to be his designated experts, and he expected the world to take in truth by trusting their words. God designed humans to know truth through trust. Of course, trusting human institutions does not mean expecting them to be perfect. How we as Christians relate to flawed institutions will be another theme running through our other videos. As we will see, the Bible is full of wisdom on relating to flawed institutions that we can apply to the vaccine. When we factor everything in, I believe there are strong reasons for trusting the scientific and Christian institutions encouraging us to take the vaccine.”
Roman Catholic Perspectives
Among the global Catholic community, there has been concern about the use of abortion-derived cell lines in the testing and/or production of various vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available in the U.S. used abortion-derived cell lines in testing, but they do not use such cell lines in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine used abortion-derived cell lines in both testing and production. None of the vaccines contain any human tissue.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a statement saying 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.” They went on to write, "The morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed."
The Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement on March 2nd informing the public that "Catholics who appropriately question the morality of accepting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may receive the inoculation in good conscience if no other alternative is available." They encouraged those who had access to all three vaccines to choose the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson, but they were adamant that, should one only have access to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the moral good it will do in saving lives and protecting community health far outweighs concerns about the use of derived cell lines.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote, “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.” They reaffirmed this perspective in a statement on March 2, 2021, which also clarified that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson's if possible, but that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was morally permissible to take if it was one's only option.
Several parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis are offering Pfizer vaccine clinics in the next month, including:
St. Vincent De Paul locations:
Cool Valley Thrift Outlet
Tuesdays, August 3 and August 24th, 2pm-6pm
1225 South Florissant
St. Louis, MO 63121
Thursdays, August 5 and 26th, 2pm-6pm
Fenton, MO 63026
Tuesdays, August 10 and 31st, 2pm-6pm
1 Paddock Hills Plaza Shopping Ctr
Florissant, MO 63033
Holy Name of Jesus Parish (North County)
The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine was already given; they will be offering the second dose on August 4th. Contact the organizers if you are hoping to get your first shot still; they may be able to accommodate you.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish (North County)
Pfizer first dose on August 13; second dose Sept 3rd.
Black Christian perspectives
Many Black communities expressed concern early on in the pandemic about vaccinations, citing the long legacy of documented racism and racial violence in the American medical tradition, with the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the story of Henrietta Lacks being two of the most cited examples of exploitation and mistreatment of Black Americans. These fears are based in a justified traumatic experience suffered by the Black American community over centuries, and they shouldn’t be dismissed.
However, countless Black medical associations, Black ministers, and Black community organizers have spoken out about the safety of the vaccine and encouraged people to get vaccinated as soon as they were able.
Among others, Morehouse School of Medicine, National Medical Association, Cobb Institute/NMA, the National Black Nurses Association, The National Urban League, and www.blackdoctor.org launched the “Love Letter to Black America, from America’s Black Doctors and Nurses” campaign, which advocates for high standards of medical and public health care for Black Americans. Another group, the Black Coalition Against Covid, has worked extensively to provide educational webinars and resources for Black Americans hesitant to get vaccinated. They also produced resources for preachers advising them on how best to provide pastoral care during the ongoing pandemic.
Evangelical Christian perspectives
Several prominent evangelical preachers have encouraged vaccinated, including Franklin Graham, son of beloved evangelist Billy Graham, who said that his father would definitely have supported COVID-19 vaccination. He himself argued that “medicine is pro-life.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint Perspectives
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has encouraged all of its members to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Eight senior leaders of the Church—the First Presidency and Apostles—received their vaccinations publicly in January 2021. In an announcement, they wrote, “In word and deed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported vaccinations for generations. As a prominent component of our humanitarian efforts, the Church has funded, distributed and administered life-saving vaccines throughout the world … Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life … Now, COVID-19 vaccines that many have worked, prayed, and fasted for are being developed, and some are being provided … As appropriate opportunities become available, the Church urges its members, employees and missionaries to be good global citizens and help quell the pandemic by safeguarding themselves and others through immunization.”
Christian Scientist perspectives
The Church of Christ, Scientist is technically opposed to healthcare intervention, as they believe that disease can be cured or prevented by focused prayer. However, members are not prohibited from getting vaccinated.