Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 71(2) May 2021


Kent and Sussex branches

February 2021: Covid vaccines – what are the ethics? and do we have choices?

50 people attended our February meeting which was held online via zoom. With a lively discus­sion, and an extremely topical subject, we were strongly in agreement that the vaccines are not illicit ethically and should be widely used, but that many might, if they are able, to express a prefer­ence for the Pfizer vaccine ahead of the AstraZeneca vaccine. That is because the Astra Zeneca vaccine is manufactured in a cell line derived from a male aborted foetus.

However, not all are persuaded of that view, and in correspondence after the meeting a few (who we think are not in fact health care workers,) criticised that view, stating that no vaccine should be used if it has any association at all with aborted foetal cell lines. One correspondent said that she “hope[d] that the Catholic Medical Association will think again, a bit more deeply.“

This is clearly a controversial issue and one for which a real voice of reason is needed. It is pleasing to see that our position echoes that of the US bishops who, in December, suggested that while it is licit to accept Pfizer-Biontech or Moderna vaccines, they are concerned about the Astra Zeneca vaccine as well as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine both of which are produced in a cell line derived from an aborted foetus [1]


  1. Zengarini, Lisa (2021) US Bishops express moral concern over 'Johnson & Johnson' vaccine. Vatican News 04 March.