My Dear Parishioners,
The Office of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently shared information with dioceses throughout the United States regarding the ethical development of shingles vaccines. The USCCB has asked that this information be disseminated as widely as possible.
God Bless you.
The only vaccines readily available in the United States for some contagious diseases (e.g., rubella and Hepatitis A) have been manufactured using fetal tissue from induced abortions. This creates a problem of conscience for some Catholic parents.
As recommended by the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2005, a long-term solution lies in working to ensure that future vaccines and other medicines are not based on cooperation with practices that demean human life. This applies to products based on abortion, as well as to projected therapies from destruction of human embryos for their stem cells.
The FDA recently approved a new shingles vaccine that does not use aborted fetal cell lines, and has given it a preferential recommendation over the only other available, and morally problematic, shingles vaccine on the market. A joint letter from our colleagues at the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) and the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) provides more detail and some helpful suggestions. It is our hope that, with some encouragement, the manufacturer of this new vaccine may consider creating other morally acceptable vaccines.
We are including a template thank-you letter to GSK that could be used by any Catholic individual/family. (Please see below for the template)
Any encouragement to create additional morally acceptable products will certainly be strengthened if we can show a market demand for such alternatives.
Thank you for spreading this good news, and for sharing your own gratitude with the manufacturer. We welcome these opportunities where we can illustrate that, contrary to popular opinion, the Church is not opposed to scientific advancement.
Sample Thank-You Letter to GlaxoSmithKline from individual Catholic
Patrick Desbiens Senior Vice President
GSK US Vaccines
5 Crescent Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19112
Dear Mr. Desbiens,
I write to thank you and your colleagues at GlaxoSmithKline for the development of your new shingles vaccine, Shingrix. I am grateful because I learned that your new vaccine was not derived from cell lines linked to elective abortion, and I intend to share this good news with my friends and family.
As you are probably aware, many Catholics do not wish to use vaccines or medicines produced from cell lines linked to elective abortion. Shingrix will most certainly alleviate those concerns and I hope that our use and promotion of this vaccine will provide GSK with an incentive to pursue other vaccines and medicines that have no connection to elective abortion.
Again, I commend you for your efforts and look forward to sharing this good news.