So many of you have written asking questions about vaccinations- particularly Varicella (chickenpox) and the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccines.
There has been concern in the Catholic community about these vaccines containing aborted fetal tissue. Let me clarify this for you.
In the 1960s, tissue from two aborted fetuses was used to begin reproducing viruses used in the chickenpox and MMR vaccines. The controversy comes from the fact that the fetal tissue was used. Many peopled errantly believe that actual tissue is injected into children when they are vaccinated. This is not true. The cell lines are only used to reproduce the viruses.
This poses an ethical and moral dilemma for many Catholics. Some feel that by using the vaccines, researchers will be encouraged to use other aborted fetal tissue. This has not happened. Others feel that it is unethical to use the vaccines because the viruses have been grown in tissue that has descended from these two aborted fetuses.
I am opposed to abortion. I understand the ethical and moral concerns over the vaccines, but I do use them. Here’s why. I feel that we have an obligation to keep our living children healthy and since we have no alternative to these vaccines, we have no choice but to use them. I feel that is more unethical to withhold vaccinations from living children than it is to use vaccines which were made from viruses reproduced in tissue that was taken over 40 years ago. Also- we have no evidence to suggest that these children were aborted for the purpose of making vaccinations.
Each parent must wrestle with this issue on his own and decide what he feels is ethically and religiously right for his child. As a pediatrician who has treated many life threatening, preventable infections in children, I have enormous respect for infections. I feel that it is my moral and religious obligation to prevent illness in children and care for them with these best (albeit limited) resources that we have.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.