The COVID-19 vaccine has been politicized, praised, and pilloried by disparate groups from both sides of the political aisle. This dissonance has fostered vaccine skepticism in many pockets of the country.
Candidate Kamala Harris told a national television audience:
“I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability” of a vaccine.
Former Representative, Katie Hill tweeted out:
“I’m a big fan of vaccines but DAMN I’m skeptical of one that‘s supposed to have been developed, tested, produced, and distributed in 6 months — right in time for the re-election of our very own dictator.”
Iowans for LIFE conducted a survey that revealed a great amount of vaccine skepticism from pro-life Iowans.
We live in an age of skepticism. Iowans for LIFE exists to protect human life by informing, educating, and inspiring society to value the sanctity of human life from its conception to natural death. This blog addresses recurring vaccine concerns and questions voiced by our supporters.
Was the vaccine rushed at the expense of safety and efficacy?
Many people who responded to our survey shared Ms. Hill’s concerns about the record-breaking speed with which the first two vaccines were developed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assures Americans that no corners were cut:
The vaccines being considered for approval “are being held to the same rigorous safety and efficacy standards as all other vaccines in the United States.”
Even more, the FDA stated:
“the pre-licensure safety database for preventive vaccines for infectious diseases typically consists of at least 3,000 study participants vaccinated with the dosing regimen intended for licensure.”
Pfizer’s trial used 44,000 participants, far exceeding FDA standards. They monitored post-inoculation reactions and reported:
“a favorable safety profile, with no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an [emergency authorization].”
The vaccine uses new mRNA technology. Does this alter our DNA?
Dr. Dan Culver of the Cleveland Clinic says no, that mRNA:
“cannot change your genetic makeup. The time that this RNA survives in the cells is relatively brief in the span of hours. What you are really doing is sticking a recipe card into the cell making protein for a few hours.”
So how is this different from ordinary vaccines? The CDC explains:
“To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines…
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines give instructions for our cells to make a harmless piece of what is called the “spike protein.” The spike protein is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the muscle cells, the cells use them to make the protein piece. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them.”
What happens next?
“Next, the cell displays the protein piece on its surface. Our immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19.
At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. The benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all vaccines, is those vaccinated gain this protection without ever having to risk the serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.”
Many people responding to IFL’s survey voiced concerns over the use of an abortion-derived cell line used in lab testing by the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Although these cells are not used in the actual development, production, and manufacturing of these two vaccines, conscientious pro-lifers are concerned that they may be colluding with evil should they take the vaccine.
This raises new questions.
Was actual fetal tissue used in testing the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines?
No. Dr. Tara Sander Lee, a senior fellow at the Charlotte Lozier Institute and director of its life-sciences program, explains that
“a fetal cell line is not the same as fetal tissue.”
It is believed that the cell line used originated from kidney cells from a 1973 abortion in the Netherlands. Recent tests don’t use the actual cells, since cells used for research were “multiplied into many cells of the same kind.” Dr. Lee said that Pfizer and Moderna haven’t trafficked in babies’ body parts as did Planned Parenthood. Nonetheless, the abortion connection exists.
Is anyone pressing pharmaceutical companies to cease the use of abortion-derived cell lines in the testing of vaccines?
Yes. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement on December 14th:
“It is because of this respect for the human person that the USCCB, in collaboration with other organizations working to protect human life, has been engaged in a campaign advocating for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 that has no link to abortion.
For example, in April 2020, four USCCB bishops, the Chairman of the Committee on Doctrine, the Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, the Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care Issues, along with representatives of twenty other organizations, wrote to the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking it to help ensure “that Americans will have access to vaccines that are free from any connection to abortion.” The signatories pointed out that there is no need to use morally compromised cell lines to produce a COVID-19 vaccine, or any vaccine. Other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines.
While some pharmaceutical companies have been working on a vaccine for COVID-19 without using morally compromised cell lines at all, others have been using such cell lines in either the design and development phase or the production phase or in both. Still others have been making use of a morally compromised cell line only for a confirmatory test of the vaccine’s efficacy. This leads many people who are concerned for the sanctity of human life to ask if it is ethical to accept any of the vaccines that have some connection to abortion.”
What is Iowans for LIFE doing to end the testing of abortion-derived cell lines?
IFL will be mailing a letter to each of the eight major pharmaceutical companies in the days to come asking them to cease the use of these cell lines in testing. We will encourage fellow members of the Iowa Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders to do the same.
Ultimately, is it ethical for conscientious pro-lifers to receive this vaccine?
It comes down to each person’s own conscience. The USCCB says yes, it is ethical, in light of the gravity of the pandemic:
“In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines.
In addition, receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community.
In this way, being vaccinated safely against COVID-19 should be considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”
IFL understands vaccine skepticism. We hope this blogpost addresses your concerns.
[COVID-19 has cut into Iowans for LIFE’s fundraising events this year. We need your help to continue our pro-life educational outreach. Support our efforts with your donation today. Thank-you.]