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US Bishops Raise Concerns About Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is the third vaccine to be authorized in the US.

Catholic bishops in the United States (US) are discouraging Church members from getting the latest, single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

In a statement, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed their “moral concerns” over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It comes as the company has allegedly used lab-grown cells that descend from cells that were taken from the tissue of aborted fetuses in the 1980s.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the third to be authorized for use in the US. The first two vaccines are Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. (Read: What’s the Difference Between CoronaVac, AstraZeneca, Moderna, etc?)

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Photo from Johnson & Johnson

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said that their “single-shot COVID-19 vaccine uses an inactivated non-infective adenovirus vector— similar to a cold virus— that codes for the coronavirus “spike” (S) protein, and there is no fetal tissue in the vaccine.”

“We are able to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses using our engineered cell-line system and look forward to delivering those doses around the world and help meet the critical need,” the company added. (Read: Meet the Pinoy Priest Who Is Developing a COVID-19 Vaccine for All)

Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot to take effect. It is also easy for transport, as it can be kept at normal refrigerator temperatures.

Is It Morally Acceptable?

US bishops discourage getting Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine (Photo from Johnson & Johnson/CNN/WAFB))

Prior to the statement of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the doctrinal office for the Roman Catholic Church said that “it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

Such claim is in line with what Pope Francis, who received a vaccine at the start of 2021, wrote in a note released in December. “The use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in the production of the vaccines derive,” the Pope wrote.

Meanwhile, health experts in the US have reminded Americans that they should get the vaccine for the safety of everyone. (Read: Holy See Urges Easing of Existing Policies for COVID-19 Vaccines)

“If people are offered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they shouldn’t say, ‘I don’t want it… We are not in a scenario where we can pick and choose vaccines,” said Dr. Paul Goepfert, director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic.

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