Meeting Report – Ethics of COVID-19 Vaccines – Online meeting 6th Feb 2021

Many thanks to all who attended this event. It was a lively discussion with input from everyone. The main take away point of this event where as follows:

  • The ‘full truth’ about the Vaccine – ought to consider:
  1. Scientific aspects – Was the vaccine produced using tried & tested scientific methods or new methods?
  2. What are the long-term effects of the vaccine (this is difficult to know with new vaccines)?
  3. What is the aim of the vaccine – To reduce mortality / hospitalisation, pathogen transmission or eliminate the pathogen from circulation (& what effect might each aim have on other microbes)
  • Ethical questions concerning research – the importance of doing good research, the ethics of using new scientific methods / establishes ones, does the research get Ethical Committee approval.
  • Ethical Qs around vaccines – Vaccines ought to be safe as well as acceptable & suitable to everyone in the population. They ought to be ethically-sound to all communities within the population & should never be mandatory. Accurate information about vaccines should be freely available (& likely important to be available in people’s native tongue or via sign language / braille etc where appropriate). In addition to being informed about the vaccine, individuals should be informed about what the alternative to vaccination are. Ethical Q – For a Pandemic with asymptomatic transmission if individuals decline an available vaccine / vaccines what measures should they take to protect against transmitting the virus to others?
  • How should Catholics best respond to Pandemics?
  1. We have a responsibility to be informed & to take appropriate steps/precautions against transmitting the pathogen to friends/family.
  2. Where vaccines become available, we have a responsibility to consider taking the vaccine carefully bearing in mind our own health, that of those we live with and aim to make wise-choices in relation to taking the vaccine or use mitigating behaviours.
  3. We need to be charitable towards our neighbours including mitigating behaviours and sharing info / concerns appropriately.

Useful reading:

  1. Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines
  2. COVID-19 Advisory Groups to the Bishops
  3. Bishops issue updated statement on COVID-19 and vaccination