Bishop Luke Walks to Cathedral for Divine Liturgy, accompanied by Subdeacon Nicholas Williams

Thoughts Concerning COVID-19 Vaccines

Many of the faith­ful are ask­ing whether it is per­mis­si­ble to receive the new COVID-19 vac­cines. After review­ing with trust­ed Ortho­dox med­ical advi­sors, we have con­clud­ed that some of the con­cerns lack foun­da­tion in fact while oth­ers are legit­i­mate. Among the valid con­cerns two are note­wor­thy: long-term tri­als are lack­ing and abort­ed fetal cells were used in research. While some con­ven­tion­al vac­cines appar­ent­ly uti­lize these cell lines in pro­duc­tion,1 the Pfiz­er and Mod­er­na mRNA vac­cines do not. There­fore, the most impor­tant aspect of these is the nov­el method used to elic­it the immune response. Since there has yet to be a long-term tri­al, a com­plete analy­sis of side-effects is not avail­able, and thus, many are legit­i­mate­ly con­cerned about this. How­ev­er, the one line of anx­i­ety that seems exces­sive is that the mRNA vac­cine rewrites human DNA. Accord­ing to pub­lished arti­cles, the mRNA does not enter the nucle­us, does not reverse tran­scribe into DNA, and is mere­ly a means to elic­it pro­tein production.

The new COVID-19 vac­cines (both con­ven­tion­al and mRNA) are not per­fect, but they bear no greater spir­i­tu­al sig­nif­i­cance than oth­er per­son­al med­ical deci­sions, such as the use of med­ica­tions for can­cer, dia­betes or hyper­ten­sion. As with oth­er sim­i­lar con­sid­er­a­tions in med­ical care, Ortho­dox faith­ful need nei­ther to seek a spe­cial bless­ing to receive the vac­cines nor are they for­bid­den to receive them. Each should seek wis­dom and dis­cern­ment after sober­ly hav­ing their con­cerns addressed, real­iz­ing also that there are oth­er pos­si­ble ther­a­pies to treat this dis­ease that have not received as much atten­tion and are not under con­sid­er­a­tion here. Regard­less of the per­son­al deci­sion regard­ing the vac­cine, all should seek the lov­ing ther­a­py and hope of our Holy Church.

+ Bish­op Luke of Syra­cuse
Abbot of Holy Trin­i­ty Monastery
Rec­tor of Holy Trin­i­ty Sem­i­nary
Jor­danville, NY

Read this state­ment in Russ­ian on the offi­cial web­site of the East­ern Amer­i­can Dio­cese of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Out­side of Russia.