In September 2020 the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement COVID-19 and Vaccination (24th September 2020). In the light of the recent breakthrough in vaccine development we now wish to issue a follow up statement.
The development of a vaccine against COVID-19 presents an important breakthrough in protecting others as well as oneself from the virus; a virus which has not only caused a global pandemic and led to a huge loss of life but has also placed a great burden on healthcare workers and systems.
Each of us has a duty to protect others from infection with its danger of serious illness, and for some, death. A vaccine is the most effective way to achieve this unless one decides to self-isolate.
Each Catholic must educate his or her conscience on this matter and decide what to do, also bearing in mind that a vaccine must be safe, effective, and universally available, especially to the poor of the world.
Catholics may in good conscience receive any of these vaccines for the good of others and themselves. In good conscience, one may refuse a particular vaccine but continues to have a duty to protect others from infection.
Bishop Richard Moth
Chair, Department of Social Justice
Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales