Allentown Diocese opposes Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Written by on March 5, 2021

Allentown Diocese opposes Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

By Hayden Mitman

March 5, 2021

A nurse administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. U.K. health authorities rolled out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, starting a global immunization program that is expected to gain momentum as more serums win approval. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

Gov. Tom Wolf is rolling out a plan to vaccinate teachers and school workers but the Diocese of Allentown said on March 3 that it opposes the use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, calling it “morally compromised.” 

Listen to the story

Bishop Alfred Schlert said  that the Catholic Church is opposed to this vaccine, claiming it was created with “abortion-derived cell lines.” 

“Other vaccines are available and are more morally acceptable,” Schlert says. 

Johnson & Johnson doesn’t deny using the cells, but also says it doesn’t use fetal tissue.

Schlert is calling on Catholic educators and school employees to seek out other options, like the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which use the cell lines in testing but not in production.

But what are Catholic teachers and school staff to do if this vaccine is their only option? 

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be accepted, but in our area, it’s hard to say there are no other choices,” says a spokesperson for the diocese.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a similar stance. 

Sign up for our WLVR weekly newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news from the Lehigh Valley and across Pennsylvania.


Current track