ARTICLE

09172020CMDAMATTERS

Physician Support for Ethical Vaccines

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our society has had to adapt to unprecedented restrictions and limitations. During this trying time, it has been difficult to find points of optimism. The rapid development of vaccine candidates utilizing varied techniques remains encouraging.

A Joint Statement by:

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American College of Pediatricians

Catholic Medical Association

Christian Medical & Dental Associations

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our society has had to adapt to unprecedented restrictions and limitations.  During this trying time, it has been difficult to find points of optimism.  The rapid development of vaccine candidates utilizing varied techniques remains encouraging.  However, while expeditious availability of effective vaccines is a laudable goal, the physician-led organizations presenting this statement stress the need for assurances of safety, efficacy, and a full commitment to uncompromised ethical development.

There are many vaccine candidates under development with newer technologies that have received much attention.  These include the use of viral genetic material (mRNA and DNA), the synthesis of viral protein in a laboratory, and the incorporation of coronavirus genetic information into another harmless carrier virus that is then injected.  The use of these techniques has produced very few effective and approved vaccines for any viral infection thus far.  Recent reports of the effectiveness of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which are both mRNA vaccines, are encouraging.  Although it is true that the animal-phase testing for these vaccines used abortion-derived fetal cells, commendably it does not appear that production methods utilized such cells.

Considerable attention is also being directed at the use of adenoviruses, a group of common respiratory viruses.  After disabling the virus and inserting coronavirus genetic material, the resulting product could be used for vaccination.  However, as with other newer vaccines, the adenovirus delivery protocol has not produced a licensed vaccine despite many years of attempts.  Of further concern is the standard use of abortion-derived fetal cell lines to produce these vaccines by companies such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.  Sadly, many other current vaccine candidates being developed also utilize cell lines derived from aborted babies for their production.

Fortunately, there are alternatives that do not violate this basic ethical and moral standard.  Over the past decades, more than fifty viral vaccines have been approved using an attenuated or inactivated vaccine.  Many of these vaccines have not utilized abortion-derived fetal cell lines for their production.  The virus is grown in the laboratory and harvested, then weakened or inactivated to serve as a safe vaccine.  In addition, other means of manufacturing with fully ethical protocols are used, including the John Paul II Medical Research Institute’s use of umbilical cord and adult stem cells.  These and other ethical approaches provide encouragement for the future, where no vaccine will violate the dignity of human life in their production.

Although the rapid development, approval, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is important, many factors must be considered.  The vaccines must be proven safe and effective before their release for widespread use, and the certainty of these assessments will improve with time.

It is also profoundly important to recognize the vaccines that may have been developed with the use of abortion-derived fetal cell lines.  This awareness is necessary from the perspective of both the health care professional and the patient, and every participant in this process deserves to know the source of the vaccine used to allow them to follow their moral conscience.  It is long overdue for researchers to abandon the use of abortion-derived cells.  When all approved vaccines are fully ethical, from development to production, our physician-led organizations and like-minded Americans will no longer question their use.

Health care professionals and hospital systems should make the source of their vaccines known to the public, with specific information regarding those that are ethically produced.  Providing this transparency to those who rely on them is a foundation of good medical care.  In addition, patients and their families should not hesitate to contact their health care professionals and request specific information about the vaccines available and their sources.  This applies not only to COVID-19 vaccines, but all other routine vaccinations.  Most vaccines have ethical alternatives, and with the public’s expectations of ethical options, the production of unethical vaccines will decline and morally acceptable vaccines will replace them.

Respect for life is foundational, and the exploitation of the unborn for vaccine production is a violation of basic human rights.  The current pandemic is an opportunity for all involved in healthcare delivery to raise their expectations and demand clear information that confirms morally correct care and prevention of disease.  If COVID-19 vaccines are approved as safe and effective, we believe utilization of the least ethically problematic vaccine available may be justified by the intended good achieved in the prevention of disease and death of those around us.

We strongly encourage all health care professionals and those under their care to expect and demand vaccines that are safe, effective, and ethically sound.  Our organizations will remain committed to that goal until all vaccines satisfy those criteria.

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Current information regarding potential vaccines for COVID-19, including details regarding the possible use of abortion-derived fetal cell lines, can be found at the Charlotte Lozier Institute website:  lozierinstitute.org

The organizations supporting this statement can be contacted through their websites:

American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists – aaplog.org

American College of Pediatricians - acpeds.org

Catholic Medical Associations - cathmed.org

Christian Medical & Dental Associations - cmda.org

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15 Comments

  1. Avatar Randall Bach on December 3, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Thank you for this wise counsel. However, at least two vaccines are about to be approved for use, with more soon to come. Why not identify which vaccines meet the standard and which ones do not? Sharing the ethics is valuable, but helping people to know how to interpretively apply those ethics is where the rubber meets the road. Without that, a call for ethical vaccines stands as but a nice statement that allows a group to stake out a position, and then walk away. Thank you again for your stance, which is appreciated. It is just inadequate in relation to where we are, on the cusp of vaccine distribution. Which vaccines meet the ethical standard and which do not?

    • Avatar Rob Hanson, MD on December 7, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      As the article indicates, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines did use ESC’s in their early development and testing, but do not use ESC’s for production of the vaccine administered to humans. While it would be difficult to morally receive a vaccine produced by the products of a human abortion, it seems justifiable to accept the two impending vaccines since, as stated, the prevention of disease and death can justify some degree of ethical dissatisfaction.

  2. Avatar Joann on December 21, 2020 at 2:25 am

    Thank you so much for clarifying this . May God bless and provide for you and all those serving, abundantly, in the Name of Jesus Christ.

  3. Avatar Marcelo Darabos DO on December 24, 2020 at 10:53 am

    What!? Ethical dissatisfaction? Any vaccine developed at any stage of its manufacturing process by means of aborted human tissue is not only unethical but also murderous. This world will continue to test and deceive us. The one that lasts will be the one that stays faithful to the end.

  4. Avatar Stephen Welch, DO on January 2, 2021 at 1:16 am

    I am a pro-life, Christian physician. I received the Pfizer vaccine. I encourage everyone to do the same (either mRNA vaccine is safe and effective). Please, if you believe every human life is sacred as I do, get the vaccine when you have the opportunity. I believe I speak for many of my ICU and hospitalist colleagues when I say that we are weary of having to phone yet another family member (as I did yet again today) with terrible news. To tell a spouse or son or granddaughter that despite valiant efforts and the latest medical technology and praying late into the night, that their loved one has succumbed to the ravages of this dreadful virus.

    Let’s be absolutely clear: Not one baby was killed in making these vaccines. Not one.

    For emphasis (from above):
    “If COVID-19 vaccines are approved as safe and effective (*they are), we believe utilisation of the least ethically problematic vaccine available (*currently Pfizer and Moderna) may be justified by the intended good achieved in the prevention of disease and death of those around us.”

    From the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, MORAL CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING THE NEW COVID-19 VACCINES:
    “The world is currently facing a health crisis. The number of deaths from COVID-19 is
    now almost one and a half million worldwide (*2 million). In the United States, the toll is approaching 300,000 (*approaching 400,000).
    Given the urgency of this crisis, the lack of available alternative vaccines, and the fact that the
    connection between an abortion that occurred decades ago and receiving a vaccine produced today
    is remote, inoculation with the new COVID-19 vaccines in these circumstances can be morally
    justified.”

    • Avatar Dave on March 17, 2021 at 1:32 pm

      the vaccine are not approved – they are still under FDA EUA (emergency use authorization). Please visit the CDC’s VAERS website to see a subset of the adverse events (subset because most healthcare workers are unaware of this A/E reporting system b/c it is different than any other pharmaceutical or biologic or medical device.

  5. Avatar Sharyn Bernhoft on January 7, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Thank you for. The insight on the vaccine, Christian friends say they will be tracked if they get this vaccine. How can I assure them this is not true?

    • Avatar Kristin Whitaker, MD on January 19, 2021 at 5:33 pm

      There is no microchip in the vaccines. There is no mention anywhere in the published data about microchips. They come in multidose vials, not in single dose syringes. It would be impossible to assure that each dose pulled from a multidose vial received a microchip.

  6. Avatar Andrew on January 20, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    I know that abortion is an ongoing debate in the making of human vaccines. I know that it must be a struggle to consider whether it is ethically and morally acceptable to receive a vaccine that had an aborted fetus involved. I, along with my wife also suffered a miscarriage about a year and half ago. It would have been a joy and privilege to have had some of the fetal cells saved for such a time as this. I know the struggle of grief in losing a child in this way. Have any pharmaceutical or vaccine companies ever considered accepting/adopting miscarried babies? I know it sounds morbid and sad, but I would rather the memory of my child be for good rather than continue seeing aborted babies utilized for profit of evil men. Thank you God for the months we had with Joy. Thank you also for the trial of having the miscarriage as it has prepared me further for ministry. Lord, I know that there are many trials in the world including COVID19 and while every life is important, may we remember that you are walking through life with us in life and death. Help us to remember that you are in control of life and death and that this control does not give us a free pass to go against your word. Help us to know from you and your world whether the use of any COVID 19 vaccine is ethically and morally right as it endorses the use of aborted fetuses (the taking of a life). Is the taking of a life ever justified by the many lives it will save, Lord?

  7. Avatar LINDA on February 12, 2021 at 9:09 am

    I am a 75 year old English woman, living in England. I have two sons and a daughter, all married
    and I have three grand children. I am really struggling with my conscience with regard to the
    current covid-19 vaccines. My surgery only offers the Astra Zenika vaccine and I have declined to
    have it twice because of its links with abortion. My daughter is also struggling with this – we are both
    Christians and really want to wait for a truly ethical vaccine that has absolutely no links to abortion.
    I believe that such a vaccine is being produced and tested in the U.S.A. and that the U.S.A., UK,
    EU and Canada have said they will use it when available. Until then, my daughter and I will wait
    and trust in the Lord to keep us safe. We are also self isolating so that there is no danger to
    anyone else. Thank you for reading this..

    • Avatar Cindie Bishop on March 7, 2021 at 11:34 am

      I am doing the same…I feel like God will protect me and if not then I’ll be with Him. Pray that the Novovax vaccine gets approved… That’s the one I’m getting!!! God bless you 💕

  8. Avatar Scott Brown on March 15, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    I have been in rural family health for 30 years and completed my MA in bioethics at Trinity International University in 2016. Our clinic in rural TN is now administering the Moderna vaccine and I do so without reservation ethically speaking. I appreciate the fact that neither the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine utilized the WI-38 cell line in production of their vaccines. That line of cells was derived from a single aborted fetus in 1963 . I believe they side-stepped that ethical pitfall quite intentionally knowing full-well there would already be a significant reticence accepting the use of the immunization. Rampant misconceptions alleging that it had been “rushed” through the usual process, or would render women and men infertile, incorporate the messenger RNA into the recipient’s DNA or effectively “microchip” any patient who received it would often be cited as reasons to refuse the shot. I am now well-rehearsed refuting those particular arguments. However I am surprised that many of my patients that would consider themselves evangelicals (37% of white evangelicals in the US currently state they will not get the vaccine) are persuaded by something else I always mention in my endorsement of these vaccines; in Genesis 50:20 (ESV) Joseph addressed the very brothers that had thrown him in a pit and sold him to an Ishmaelite caravan when he said to them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.” Joseph’s quote is so poetic in this context…as if to give voice to that aborted fetus if ever he/she could realize how many lives would be saved through the cell line that it sourced. Stuart Jay Olshansky, an expert in biodemography and gerontology at the University of Illinois, Chicago, calculated that vaccines made with WI-38, since the 1960s, may have prevented around 4.5 billion infections and in total the cells are likely to have spared 10.3 million lives. This is not an example of “the end justifies the means.” Certainly not, but it is an example of a redemptive enterprise superintended by a sovereign God.

    • Avatar Steven Willing on March 18, 2021 at 12:31 pm

      Excellent comments, Scott.

      According to the logic of some, we should reject salvation. Was there ever a greater sin than the crucifixion of our Lord?

  9. Avatar Dave on March 17, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Most vaccines have aluminum and formaldehyde (and a few still have mercury) – and many new vaccines contain human and non-human DNA and proteins. It saddens me that we are putting too much faith in vaccines vs. true health issues. My thoughts on the mRNA vaccine is it will result in an increase in autoimmune diseases, since the viral mRNA will highjack the host cell’s (your cell’s) protein synthesis mechanism to make the spike protein but will still make native protein (your protein) – but the spike protein will trigger an immune response (that in theory will be just for the spike protein) an will also trigger autoimmunity to the host proteins. Please read about the Sanofi Dengue fever vaccine in the Philippines and it triggering severe reactions (termed pathogenic priming). Also, visit the US CDC VAERS database vs. the COVID vaccine

    • Avatar Steven Willing on March 18, 2021 at 12:28 pm

      Almost nothing you just said is true. The VAERS is popular among antivaxxers, none of whom acknowledge it is all self reported, it gives no evidence of causality, and none of the reports are independently verified.

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