Rockford Diocese: Avoid J&J vaccine if possible, but not morally wrong

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Many Stateline residents are eager to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine, but most won’t have a choice when it comes to which drug maker that produced the dose.

This has some Catholics concerned. The local diocese tell us that worshippers should try to avoid the Johnson & Johnson dose.

A reverend of the diocese says while members of the church should try to take one of the other vaccines, it isn’t morally wrong to receive the shot, even if it’s your only option.

“We want to be sure the vaccines don’t have a direct connection to something to something that we would find morally problematic like abortion,” said Father Ken Wasilewski, a Ethicist with the Diocese of Rockford.

Across the country, members of the Catholic Church express concerns about receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One local expert says the vaccine was developed in part through cell lines that came from a human fetus that was aborted in the mid-1980s.

“All vaccines use those type of cell lines for testing. Only Johnson and Johnson used those cells in the production of the vaccine,” explained Thomas Carey, the Director of Pharmacy for SwedishAmerican.

The Diocese of Rockford is advising parishioners to take the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine if possible.

“In a perfect world. these vaccines would have no connection to abortion whatsoever. But we want to ensure that whatever connection there is, is remote as possible,” said Father Wasilewski.

However, Father Wasilewski understands not all people will have the opportunity to choose.

“If you don’t have a choice, or if you don’t know the day you get the vaccine what it’s going to get, and you discover it’s the Johnson and Johnson, it’s still acceptable. It’s not ideal, but it still falls within the realm of moral acceptability even though it’d be preferable to have one of the other ones,” Wasilewski explained.

Wasilewski adds while it’s ultimately a personal choice to be vaccinated, the church is encouraging people to consider rolling up their sleeve.

“We would see that as one way we can contribute to the health of society, to the health of other people, to the common good. So by receiving the vaccines, we see this as some way in an act of love, not only of self-care, but of concern for others,” said Wasilewski.

Wasilewski encourages any member of the church who has concerns about taking a shot to have a more in-depth conversation with one of their faith leaders.

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