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Catholic Leaders, Medical Experts Offer Guidance On Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

Catholic Television of San Antonio screenshot
San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller reinforced a statement from the the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller reinforced guidance stating the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is morally acceptable to receive, but faith followers should choose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines if possible.

"…the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that it is ‘morally acceptable’ to receive vaccines when ‘ethically irreproachable’ options are not available. Given the world-wide suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good," a statement from the San Antonio Archdiocese said.

It has nearly 800,000 followers in Bexar County, surrounding counties and additional counties to the west that stretch to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The J&J vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late February. It is the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, and has emergency use authorization.

| Related: Got Questions About Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Vaccine? We Have Answers |

Dr. Junda Woo serves as Bexar County’s public health authority and the medical director for San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District. At the city’s nightly briefing on March 4 she said there are cell lines from the 1970s and ‘80s still used today in some vaccine science and — in some cases — vaccine production.

“We point people toward the Archdiocese guidance… they feel like right now (it’s) more important to get vaccinated,” said Woo. “I also feel like that is a conversation between the person and their faith leader.”

Dr. Ruth Berggren is a UT Health professor of medicine and said there is no fetal tissue in any vaccines.

“We’re talking about using cell lines from a long time ago, but there is no fetal tissue in the J&J vaccine,” Berggren said.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian
Bri Kirkham can be reached at bri@tpr.org or on Twitter at @BriKirk