Catholic health care giant to mandate coronavirus vaccines for employees

By | July 30, 2021

According to the Alabama-based NBC15 News, an email sent to Ascension employees this week said fewer than 50% of its employees in Florida and the Gulf Coast are vaccinated.

Some employees have objected that the mandate violates their medical freedom and personal choice.

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According to Ascension’s website, as of 2020 it has over 160,000 associates, 40,000 aligned health care providers and 9,000 employed providers. It has more than 2,600 health care facilities in 19 states and the District of Columbia, including 145 hospitals and over 40 senior care facilities.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has addressed concerns about the use of vaccines with a remote connection to abortion. The use of these vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process is acceptable “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available,” it said in a December 2020 note.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a March 2 statement, said that the mRNA vaccines available from Pfizer and Moderna have “the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen” and should be preferred to the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

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In a July 2 statement, the National Catholic Bioethics Center discussed vaccine mandates. Any mandates should provide “robust, transparent, and readily accessible exemptions for medical, religious, and conscience reasons.” This safeguards the rights of conscience, establishes trust, and avoids “undue pressure,” the bioethics center said. Mandates can exert severe pressure if employment is threatened, and the current vaccines are approved only under an emergency use authorization.

“Recognizing the importance of public health, institutions that grant an exemption may require that recipients restrict their interpersonal interactions, but these restrictions should be the least burdensome possible,” the statement continued.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center said there is “no universal moral obligation” to accept or reject vaccines.

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