Information Regarding Requests for (Catholic) Religious Exemptions from Vaccines
Although taking vaccines is morally permitted by the teaching of the Catholic Church, is there an objection to the COVID vaccine in particular? The answer to this question may be found on the website of the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics (vaccinebioethics.com). Simply put, a Catholic can morally and licitly receive all the COVID vaccines currently available, although there are differences between them. On moral grounds it is suggested to avoid the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and Astra Zeneca vaccines if another is available.
Questions regarding vaccine exemptions (from a Catholic perspective) have to do with a secular civil liberties question: whether or not the government can require someone to show proof of vaccination to be permitted to do something. For example, it is well known that in New York State, the following vaccines are required for day care, pre-K, and all school attendance:
• Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine and Pertussis vaccine (DTaP or Tdap)
• Hepatitis B vaccine
• Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR)
• Polio vaccine
• Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine
Some people are asking the Catholic Church to support a religious exemption from the COVID vaccines. This issue should be properly pursued on civil liberties grounds, or on the grounds of one’s “personal” beliefs, but not on the basis of the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Church cannot say that there is a “Catholic” religious objection to the vaccine when one does not exist. The Church does not support forcing people to be vaccinated. However, neither do we issue Catholic exemptions.