𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐰𝐞𝐫: Yes. In fact, I would argue getting a vaccine (especially the mRNA ones) is being pro-life in multiple ways by still promoting your deeply held Christian values towards abortion and seeking the good of the city, and loving our neighbors. Let me explain. For today, I want to focus only on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The mRNA technology does not contain any fetal cell lines in the production or manufacturing of the vaccines. In other words, you will not be injected with fetal cells. (The bigger discussion about fetal cells used in the production of other vaccines that are in development (like J&J and AstraZeneca) is for another post.)
⭐⭐The most pressing issue for today is many of you are having to make a choice on getting the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna). And you are a person of faith. Let me give you information that might help.
✅ I want to start off by saying this is not about winning an argument. We all want to be pro-life if we are having this discussion. Winning is not the goal. Figuring out how to follow Jesus is the goal for many of us – and, that includes valuing baby’s lives and lives being lost to COVID-19 – which many of you very much agree with. So, please read this post as a fellow faith sojourner with nothing to prove or win or gain. I’m simply asking the same questions many of you are as a Christian, a pastor’s wife, an evangelical-ish, from the buckle of the Bible-belt Texas. So, please hear that I write all of this with deep sensitivity towards this issue.
✅ But the biggest issue is this – We are seeing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the faith community among people who have gotten vaccines for their children, promoted shingles vaccines for parents, and gotten yearly flu shots themselves. So, these people aren’t anti-vaxxers or far-right pundits. Instead, they are people who are nervous about the COVID 19 vaccines because they have heard that they contain baby parts or somehow promote abortion. Some of these misconceptions are from anti-vax groups (even though you might not realize it) and other times are just misunderstandings on how vaccines work. So, it’s hard to know what’s real or not (even among well-meaning people of faith who want to be well-informed and are not pushing an agenda). Then the misinformation in 2020 goes viral quickly. These are harmful misconceptions that lead to real-life behavior that affects our community’s ability to ethically and morally achieve herd immunity and lead to many refusing the vaccines when they become available to them.
So, let me help you see the right information about the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and dispel some of the bad information circulating. I also want to bring us to Jesus and view these vaccines through the lens of the Cross and how vaccines can be a powerful statement of loving our neighbors.
✅ 𝟏. 𝐋𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠.Here’s the history: There are cell lines derived decades ago (in the 60s and 70s) from elective abortions in Sweden and England. These cell lines have been used to create a multitude of vaccines against fatal or debilitating diseases for our children, including polio, measles, rubella, chickenpox, and debilitating vaccines for older adults, such as shingles. In addition, these tissues have been used to study Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, some congenital birth defects, and HIV/AIDs. In fact, the experimental antibody cocktail (Regeneron’s REGN-COVD2) that President Trump received was created and tested using a cell line from a fetal tissue acquired in the 70s.
✅ 𝟐. 𝐖𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. Testing happens in a lab. Production is the manufacturing that goes into our bodies. Sometimes, fetal cell lines are used in testing and production of vaccines, and this has been a long-standing topic in the faith community. Other times, fetal cell lines are only used in lab testing for efficiency, but not in production or manufacturing (like Pfizer or Moderna). Testing the mRNA vaccines is to do just that – test them to see if they work against COVID-19 in the “petri dish” phase. This type of testing is common (and has been for 50 years) for vaccines and drug development (like we already talked about with diseases like HIV or Alzheimer’s). Once a new treatment or vaccine is ready to be produced, a whole new set of processes start to take place. For the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, this new process does not contain the fetal cells. So, what’s the conclusion for point #2? Testing and producing are two very different things.
✅ 𝟑. 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐮𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐫𝐨-𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞? For many in the faith communities, pro-life stances are the main moral issue in voting, legislation, and deeply rooted in their faith. So, I want to be really sensitive to that – it’s important to many of you. In the midst of a pandemic that is killing nearly 4,000 people per day, the question of vaccines (particularly the mRNA ones with no fetal cells) needs to be elevated in light of Jesus. We can be pro-life in regard to abortion and be pro-life towards COVID-19 with vaccines. If you get a shingles vaccine or vaccines for your children, you’re already doing that anyways. Yes, the most ethical version of a vaccine is to use one that is entirely tested, developed, and produced without the use of fetal cells. We do not have that yet for COVID-19. What we do have is one that is PRODUCED without any fetal cells (so, you will not be injected with any fetal cell parts) and can save many lives by ending the pandemic.
✅ As Christians in today’s world, we are constantly making choices of faithfulness/discipleship, love of neighbor/morality, witness, and truth. As we think through the vaccines, let’s choose the way of Philippians 4, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
⭐- For truth, look at the science. Look at the mRNA vaccines with extremely high efficacy (above 90% after 2 doses) and safety profiles similar to other vaccines on the market.
⭐- For nobility, right, pure, admirable (witness-able) – Look at the example of Jesus. Loving our neighbors was how the entire law was summed up – the law that Jesus fulfilled on the Cross. To me, our witness to a watching world to the ways of Jesus in an unprecedented way right now is what we, as people of faith, do – in our church services and with our vaccine choices.
⭐- For excellent and praiseworthy – We can choose to participate in the system of letting herd immunity be reached through natural means (without the vaccines), which will result in an additional 200,000-300,000 lives lost in the next few months. Or, we can choose to love our neighbors by participating in a system that achieves herd immunity through a vaccine that is pro-life towards babies (does not include fetal cells) and pro-life to our communities (stops the pandemic and saves hundreds of thousands of lives). I would consider option 2 excellent and praiseworthy!
The Apostle Paul wrote about rejoicing, praying, and guarding against anxiety in the verses prior to Philippians 4:8. I will be rejoicing when I can get my vaccine and consider it excellent and praiseworthy for myself, my family, and my community. 🙌
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
***If you have concerns about the safety, efficacy, or other questions (including common myths) about the vaccine, go to the Vaccine Series in the Table O’ Contents here – https://www.facebook.com/friendlyneighborepidemiologist/posts/157871299168861***
𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐩𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐑𝐍𝐀 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬:
1. The pro-life policy organization (the Charlotte Lozier Institute) said the mRNA vaccines were ethically uncontroversial because of the non-use of fetal cell lines in production.What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccines | Charlotte Lozier Institute
2. The Catholic Health Association of the US stated, “In terms of the moral principles being concerned about the use of any pharmaceuticals that were developed from aborted fetuses, that is certainly an issue that we all want to be cognizant of and try to avoid their use. With that in mind, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines that are coming our are not even tainted with that moral problem.”
The statement from the National Catholics Bioethics Center: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e3ada1a6a2e8d6a131d1dcd/t/5fd3ce39e679895094dd1e49/1607716409962/NCBCVaccineStatementFINAL.pdf
3. The Vatican, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other conservative pro-life groups have noted that these vaccines are ethical when there are no ethically derived alternatives, and in the midst of a global pandemic. https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20201221_nota-vaccini-anticovid_en.html
4. From a conservative Southern Baptist standpoint, Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, met with Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the US NIH and a deeply devout Christian, to discuss the moral implications of vaccines and fetal cell lines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er7XjryDHkg&feature=youtu.be
5. Discussion from the Gospel Coalition: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-faqs-fetal-cells-covid-19-vaccines-treatments/
6. Christian Medical and Dental Association’s statement on ethical vaccines: https://cmda.org/coronavirus/