Hamilton Co. — For months, officials and health experts have raced to get Americans vaccinated.
This week, several leaders of the largest religious organization in the world are expressing hesitation over the newest vaccine to be authorized. Including one in our backyard.
The Bishop of Diocese of Knoxville, Rick Stika tweeted on Tuesday:
"Tomorrow I will be issuing information to DIoKnox concerning the J and J vaccine. It appears that a cell line derived from an aborted child seems to have been used in the development and production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Other alternatives are available."
We sat down with Pastor David Carter of Basilica of St. Peters St. Paul in Chattanooga. He says he wants to make it clear that the Catholic Church is not against getting vaccinated.
"The basic gist of the statement is this, we are not anti-vaccine," Carter said.
Carter says people need to weigh their options and make the best choice for themselves.
"The Moderna vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine seemed to be more in line with the Catholic understanding of acceptable practices to develop and to use, and that we would recommend those when there's an option to choose those if that's if it's on the table," Carter said.
On Wednesday, the Diocese of Knoxville released a statement.
In part it read:
“For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we as a Church find it to be morally questionable. However, there are going to be situations where you are forced to accept it as the only choice. It would be different if your main intention is to seek out that particular type of vaccine, but at some point, you might not have a choice. God will understand that, Bishop Stika said.”
Johnson and Johnson released a statement that did not deny the contention but instead stressed there is no actual fetal tissue used in its vaccine.
Dr. David Bruce is a medical director for one to one Health in Hamilton County and he understands this is a personal decision.
"Some of those were from a cell line obtained in the 1980's from apparently an aborted fetus," Bruce said.
Bruce says his wife is Catholic and also a physician. He says this has been a conversation in their household.
Bruce says the long term impacts of any COVID-19 vaccine have the ability to save many.
"And as far as I'm concerned, a vaccine is the most pro life thing that there is, it is it was generated to protect human life," Bruce said.
To read the Diocese of Knoxville's full statement, click here.
According to ABC News, in late December, the Vatican wrote "When ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available, it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process."