Catholic Teaching and Immunization Policy


No, there are not 10-12. There are five.

Hep A
one shingles vaccine (Zostavax)
one variant of the rabies vaccine

They are from cell lines in the 1960s from two pregnancies, and no other lines are used. These are the only lines and the only vaccines.

Edited to add link I found, from CHOP, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:


I believe they are only mandatory for certain things, like being around other children.


They are also mandatory for health care workers, police officers and most first responders (they get the hepatitis series and tetanus shots at a minimum), college students, and of course the military and many in Federal law enforcement.

Any medication carries a risk. Most vaccines have been around for decades, and despite what the rabid anti-vaxxers say, severe complications are extremely rare.

No vaccine causes autism, and it is not listed on the insert as a possible complication of any vaccine. I made it my business to read every insert for the leading childhood vaccines when I worked pediatrics just two years ago. The pictures on the anti-vaxxer sites are photoshopped. It’s not there. Our immunizations department gets those questions all the time.

For proof of the autism issue, please look into the study done in Norway. Norway has mandatory vaccination, and as they have socialized medicine, they have vaccination records going back about forty years. They get the same vaccines we get. The rate of autism in that country is the same as ours.

There’s also an awesome episode of Frontline on this topic.


Thank you for the correction. The info I had must be outdated, it was from 2005 and is not limited to those in the US.


Europe has different vaccine sources and different laws than we do. I had heard that myself. Also, recombinant DNA technology (where a bacteria is used to replicate the DNA of the drug) may have eliminated some of those - I’m not sure and wouldn’t swear to it.

I understand it’s a horrible thought, and I was pretty shocked when I learned about it myself. I have the Hep A series because I have no choice, and I’ve had about four MMRs. But if anything good has come out of it, those babies have potentially saved millions.


You’re assuming there’s a significant risk of severe side effects, when there’s really not. Do you have any evidence to support the existence of these perceived risks?


You’re driving home the whole point of the OP. We’ve all agreed that severe risks happen, albeit rarely. But how “significant” is significant to you? More than one? If one single child suffers from a severe reaction to benefit herd immunity, is that ethically acceptable to you? If so, how many more children must experience the reaction before you might object to coercive vaccination policy? I’m trying to get us past speaking in terms of numbers and abstractions when there are real children involved.


I appreciate you sharing this perspective from NCB. It appears that they are not the official voice of the Magisterium, correct?

They appear to take a stand on a moral obligation to comply with vaccine recommendations, but do they have a position on mandates?

I did some digging, and the closest I could find to an actual voice from the Church comes from the USCCB, which advises against parochial schools adopting coercive vaccination policies. You are correct that it is based on objections due to aborted fetal cell lines and not the consideration of risk. The latter I’m hoping to examine better from a Catholic stance.


I’m still waiting for you to present evidence of these “risks.”


Are you now making the claim that vaccines are 100% free of severe risk? This is an extremely difficult, if not impossible claim to defend. But I’m interested in hearing your case for it.

Symptoms of severe, reportable adverse events following vaccination are available on Vaccine Information Sheets (VIS) available from the CDC and the Vaccine Adverse Events Recording System (VAERS). Hard numbers are difficult to pin down due to difficulty in establishing cause versus correlation and reputed under-reporting to the VAERS database.

Would you like to address my questions, or shall I move on to engaging another poster?

ETA: I’m going to bed now. Play nicely while I’m away, everyone! :slight_smile:


My daughter had a seizure from her first pertussis vaccine. I do not regret her having the vaccine. I don’t think the govt mandating vaccines is a bad thing. I think without govt intervention the word about the advantages of vaccines may not have reached certain areas-- in particular rural areas or certain sectors of the public where large groups of poor people live. The best way to get the underprivileged their vaccines is to mandate it for school entry. It’s a common sense approach. The govt provides vaccines free of charge to the underprivileged. If they didn’t mandate them and provide them free, we would probably still have uncontrolled epidemics. I think we take for granted nowadays that we don’t see polio, measles, whooping cough, (etc.) epidemics. There aren’t many of us who have seen a child die from or become crippled by one of these diseases (lately).
I’d say if you did, you’d be first in line to vaccinate. My daughter depends on the rest of the population to get their whooping cough vaccine. I’ll take the govts intervention on it all day long because that may save her life. I look at it from that perspective.


So if you get vaccinated, it means that you could have cells from aborted babies injected into your body? It is mentally distressing to know that in your body you are carrying around aborted baby cells.


You are right, real children are involved and every severe side effect experienced is very tragic.
But I wouldn’t say that it is ethically unacceptable, unless it is unethical to make anything mandatory, because everything has a risk, and can lead to severe suffering/ death. If something is made mandatory because it is for something good, then it’s not unethical. It’s different than mandating something like birth control or abortions for the sake of population control. That would be utilitarian.

Wouldn’t it also be unethical to not immunize your child, and possibly get your child sick because he/ she is unprotected, and also place other children at risk?Is it ethical for parents to refuse to seek medical treatment for their child, because they are afraid of the side effects of drugs? Or afraid that their child may catch something more serious for the hospital? Children have died because their parents misunderstood the risks of medicine. Children have also died because their parents refused to vaccinate them. And this risk is far greater than the risk of vaccine side effects.

If it were my child, I would still choose to immunize my child. Immunization is good for my child and for the common good of society. I wouldn’t choose to not immmunize my child because there are minimal risks any more than I would choose to forbid my child to get into a car for fear of a car accident.


No, this is not the case. Human cells are not being injected.


Most of us ride in automobiles knowing that automobile accidents occur that take the lives of others. Does that mean by riding in an automobile we are complicit in the loss of life associated with a certain percentage of accidents? Does that make parents accountable for the loss of life of some child they don’t know who was in a car accident, because they took their own child in their own automobile? I don’t see vaccination as a moral issue whatsoever with regards to loss of life.


I’ll extend that. A seat belt may be risky but because the risk is low compared to the benefit then we mandate wearing seat belts.

I suppose at what point is the risk significant enough to not mandate it is a good question but not one I have an answer to.


I don’t have time to address all of the responses, but where you’ve come closer than anybody else to addressing my questions, I’ll take some time with yours. :slight_smile:

I would argue that it’s impossible to make an omelet (herd immunity) without breaking a few eggs (children). This cliche, (attributed to Lenin, I believe), is the defining crux of utiltarianism.

Children have died because their physicians have misdiagnosed them, misunderstood medicine, or been flat-out negligent. Indeed, I’ve seen figures ranging from 90,000 to 400,000 Americans dying annually of medical negligence. That’s a few more than measles, (albeit without a fraction of the moral outrage directed toward measles outbreaks), wouldn’t you say? Some modicum of medical choice helps counter-act this effect.

I understand and respect where you’re coming from. I’ve been name-called an “anti-vaxxer,” which is mildly amusing because I’m wondering how I can be anti-something-I’m-already-doing. What I’m trying hard to convey is that this issue is not a black and white one.


It’s an interesting analogy but falls short when you consider that vaccine manufacturers, unlike auto and carseat manufacturers, are indemnified and not subject to regular tort laws. In short, there’s less accountability for the product. I’m left to wonder how the public would respond if our cars, including seatbelts, were an indemnified product.


This is another helpful document


Thanks. I’ve read this but think others should in find it helpful. I went ahead and immunized my kids.

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