Many of the faithful are asking whether it is permissible to receive the new COVID-19 vaccines. After reviewing with trusted Orthodox medical advisors, we have concluded that some of the concerns lack foundation in fact, while others are legitimate. Among the valid concerns, two are noteworthy: long-term trials are lacking and aborted fetal cells were used in research. While some conventional vaccines apparently utilize these cell lines in production, the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines do not. Therefore, the most important aspect of these is the novel method used to elicit the immune response. Since there has yet to be a long-term trial, a complete analysis of side-effects is not available, and thus, many are legitimately concerned about this. However, the one line of anxiety that seems excessive is that the mRNA vaccine rewrites human DNA. According to published articles, the mRNA does not enter the nucleus, does not reverse transcribe into DNA, and is merely a means to elicit protein production. The new COVID-19 vaccines (both conventional and mRNA) are not perfect, but they bear no greater spiritual significance than other personal medical decisions, such as the use of medications for cancer, diabetes, or hypertension.
As with other similar considerations in medical care, Orthodox faithful need neither to seek a special blessing to receive the vaccines nor are they forbidden to receive them. Each should seek wisdom and discernment after soberly having their concerns addressed, realizing also that there are other possible therapies to treat this disease that have not received as much attention and are not under consideration here. Regardless of the personal decision regarding the vaccine, all should seek the loving therapy and hope of our Holy Church.
Bishop of Syracuse
Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery,
Rector of Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY.