The Catholic Medical Association says it is ‘highly regrettable’ that NHS workers will lose their jobs if they have not been vaccinated.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that frontline NHS staff and those who work in social care will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from April in order to keep their jobs.
Sajid Javid said the move was necessary to ‘avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS’ and to ’protect colleagues in the NHS.’ However, the CMA told the Universe Catholic Weekly that the move will harm the NHS. “It is highly regrettable that they should lose their employment and that the skills and dedication of hard-working nurses, doctors and other carers should be lost to a health service already in crisis.”
The CMA said that medical professionals should not be coerced into taking the vaccine. “The CMA believes that any person’s decision to accept a vaccine or otherwise should take place in the context of respectful persuasion rather than any form of coercion such as that constituted by the current mandate for health-workers,” they said.
Many Catholic doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers, as well as non-medical and administrative staff, will be affected by Sajid Javid’s announcement.
The CMA, which is committed to supporting and advising Catholic healthcare workers in practising their profession in accordance with the teachings of the Church, ‘strongly supports’ vaccines for the vulnerable and older people. However, some in the group have reservations about the use of the vaccine for children, young people and pregnant women.
“Whilst the association itself does not have a firm line of opposition to vaccination for these groups, it does recognise the legitimate concerns of certain members, especially as data on clinical outcomes is limited at this stage,” they said. Many concerns revolve around the development of COVID vaccines with the assistance of foetal cell lines. “The Church has spoken directly to this issue through the document Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Foetuses in 2005. In summary, the COVID vaccines developed with the assistance of foetal cell lines emerge as licit, in terms of Catholic teaching on morality, even though far from ideal.”
Sajid Javid says he has left appropriate time ‘for remaining colleagues to make the positive choice to protect themselves of those around them, and time for workforce planning.’ Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised the decision not to be vaccinated as ‘deeply irresponsible’, but the CMA said it recognised the complexity of the issue for Catholics.
“The CMA respects the conscientious decision of some to refuse vaccination altogether because of involvement with foetal cell lines but would, at the same time, emphasise that this is not required by Catholic moral teaching,” they said.
The CMA expressed a wish that foetal cell lines will not feature in future vaccines. “There will hopefully come a time when all vaccines can be produced without recourse to foetal cell lines acquired by abortion, but we’re not here yet,” they said.
PHOTO: A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., Nov. 4, 2021. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)