Even before V-Day, the day the coronavirus vaccine started to be administered exponentially, a debate began on social media and other media between those who believe it is compulsory to vaccinate and those against the vaccine and the obligation to do so.
In the last few days, we have received a wealth of information on the vaccine’s efficacy, which is difficult to handle by those who are not experts in the field. There is also a small but very noisy information galaxy that claims – without scientific data in hand – that the vaccine is nothing more than a plot hatched by pharmaceutical companies and world governments to control the masses.
Without wishing to enter into this sterile controversy, I believe it is necessary to make two simple points. 1. The world is facing an epidemic that brings death and changes in lifestyles. 2. History teaches us that diseases have only been defeated through medicine and vaccines. So: why this aversion to vaccines in general and Covid-19 in particular? What responsible moral behaviour to take?
Some religious orientations also contribute to the confusion on such a sensitive issue. For example, the Amish, rejecting modernity, repudiate the use of drugs and vaccines themselves. For the scientist church’s followers, Christian science, born in the United States in 1892, all illnesses must be cured by prayer. Conflicting positions are also found in Protestant churches.
Other religious objections to vaccines relate to the substances they contain, such as the use of unclean animals (for Judaism and Islam) or the presence of cultured cells that were originally taken from voluntarily aborted foetuses. On this subject, I refer to the post “The question of vaccines” and to the note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “Note on the morality of the use of certain anti-Covid-19 vaccines”.
For us as believers, vaccinating is a clear choice for the common good, a moral choice dictated by our responsibility towards other men. Vaccinating for a believer is a human duty, in the name of social solidarity, and a Christian duty, in charity’s name towards oneself and one’s neighbour. In a cultural context where the drive towards interdependence is strong, individualism and self-referential lifestyles must not prevail when faced with such important choices.
In the face of a health crisis, we cannot put the personal good before the common good. As believers, we are called upon to freely exercise our moral responsibility towards mankind.
On this subject, the note “Vaccine for all. Vaccine for all. 20 points for a more just and healthy world’ drawn up by the Vatican Commission Covid-19 in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Life. Point n. 13 states: “On the moral responsibility to undergo vaccination (also based on what has been said in n. 3), it is necessary to reiterate how this issue also involves a relationship between personal health and public health, showing their close interdependence. In light of this link, we believe it is important to consider making a responsible decision in this regard, given that refusing a vaccine can also constitute a risk for others.
The Common Good is a responsible moral choice made in relationships as a special form of relational good. Since it is the relationships between people that constitute the good, vaccinating becomes a genuinely responsible moral choice. In the face of the good, we must leave aside the logic of the “I” to let the logic of the “we” win out as a choice that sends us back to the one and supreme Good.
Fr. Alfonso V. Amarante, C.Ss.R.
(The original text is in Italian)