Diocese of St. Augustine recommends Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines over Johnson & Johnson for Catholics

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The Diocese of St. Augustine is telling Catholics to not get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, if they have a choice.

The Church is raising concerns about the use of the PER.C6 cell line, derived from an aborted fetus in 1985.

The Diocese of St. Augustine says it will follow the lead of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Related Story: The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine has issued new guidelines for Catholics when deciding which COVID-19 vaccine to receive

USCCB issued a statement on its guidance to Catholics.

“... Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production,” said USCCB.

The statement goes on to recommend the Moderna and Pfizer options, over Johnson & Johnson.

“… if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen…”

USCCB didn’t rule out Johnson & Johnson as an option for Catholics entirely.

" … given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Mohammad Reza says there are no cell lines in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine itself.

“While these fetal cell lines may have been used to develop or manufacture the COVID-19 vaccines, specifically the Johnson & Johnson one in the manufacturing process, the vaccines themselves, again, do not contain any aborted fetal cells,” said Dr. Reza.

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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine hasn’t yet been made available in our area.

As soon as we know the locations where it will be offered, we will let you know.

Complete USCCB Statement:

WASHINGTON– On March 2, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recently approved for use in the United States.

“The approval of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States again raises questions about the moral permissibility of using vaccines developed, tested, and/or produced with the help of abortion-derived cell lines.

“Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines raised concerns because an abortion-derived cell line was used for testing them, but not in their production. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, however, was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising additional moral concerns. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged 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.’[1] However, if one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.

“While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion-derived cell lines, given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”