The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 22, Issue 2, Summer 2022

Perspectives on Public Health

James McTavish, Jason T. Eberl
Pages 319-333

Is COVID-19 Vaccination Ordinary (Morally Obligatory) Treatment?

Many Catholics have expressed hesitancy or resistance to being vaccinated for COVID-19, with magisterial authorities and influential Catholic organizations advocating divergent views regarding the moral liceity of the vaccines, the justification of vaccination mandates, and whether such mandates should include religious exemptions. We address each of these disputed points and argue that vaccination for COVID-19 falls within the definition of being an ordinary—and thereby morally obligatory—treatment. To that end, we offer a brief overview of the Catholic moral tradition regarding the development of the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary treatment, show how the Church morally evaluates vaccination as a good act, and underline the importance of positive witnessing in supporting vaccination.