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Concluding document of the round table “Vaccination: ethical aspects in the light of Orthodox doctrine”

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On May 20, 2021, a round table “Vaccination: ethical aspects in the light of Orthodox doctrine” was held at the Sretenskaya Theological Academy. The participants approved a final document.

The participants in the round table “Vaccination: ethical aspects in the light of the Orthodox faith” – members of the Inter-Congregational Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church, experts in medicine and biology, representatives of the Orthodox community – discussed the emerging, including among the children of the Orthodox Church, questions about vaccination against coronavirus infection COVID-19.

Deep gratitude and respect are due to scientists and physicians who have made significant efforts to overcome the consequences and prevent the further spread of COVID-19 coronavirus infection, which has claimed the lives of many people and caused significant disruption in the lives of nations. Today, as in the past, thanks to the achievements of medical science, including in the field of vaccine prophylaxis, it has become possible to reduce the spread of many diseases, alleviate the suffering they bring to people, reduce mortality and increase life expectancy. . Many known epidemics in the past have been eradicated, including after vaccination against them.

The historical experience of the Russian Orthodox Church knows examples of the active participation of the clergy in the spread of the practice of vaccination as a medical procedure aimed at preserving human life and health. In particular, a decree of the Holy Synod in 1804 recommended that bishops and priests explain to the people the benefits of smallpox vaccination. Then the basics of vaccination against this disease are included in the list of general education disciplines in the training program for future clergy. The spread of the smallpox vaccine was also supported by the Moscow saint Innocent.

It is incorrect to claim that the principled refusal of the vaccine as such can be conditioned by the Orthodox faith. The choice in favor of vaccination or refusal is an individual decision of each person (in relation to children – their parents or legal guardians), taken on the basis of personal belief, knowledge, life experience, as well as taking into account the information received from medical professionals, the scientific community and vaccine manufacturers.

The Russian Orthodox Church has consistently adhered to the principles of protecting the freedom of choice of everyone in the use or non-use of new and rapidly evolving technologies, including in the field of medicine. In particular, the Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church emphasizes: “The relationship between the doctor and the patient must be built on respect for the integrity, free choice and dignity of the individual. Manipulation of man is inadmissible even for the best of purposes ”(XI.3). Following the stated principle and recognizing the importance of maintaining initiatives to overcome the pandemic, including through vaccination of a wide range of the population, the participants in the round table considered it necessary to ensure people’s freedom of choice regarding vaccination against coronavirus infection. COVID-19 and the exclusion of any form of overt or covert segregation of citizens who have refused such vaccination for any reason. It should be noted that the observed cases of manipulative coercion to vaccinate and other actions against freedom of choice provoke a negative reaction in the society and increase the rumors and anxieties about the measures taken in the field of health care.

Concerns of part of the public regarding the administration of vaccines, including vaccines against coronavirus infection COVID-19, are due, among other reasons, to concerns about the risk of post-vaccine complications and the formal approach to immunoprophylaxis that does not take into account individual characteristics. to each person. The participants in the round table, noting that the assessment of the effectiveness and degree of risk of side effects of medicines is not within the tasks and competencies of the Church, emphasize the importance of broad expert and public discussion of the problems and proper verification of used drugs and their side effects. effects, including delayed, as well as the certification of these preparations. No less important is the full and accessible information of the people deciding on vaccination, about the degree of its necessity and the possible consequences. The issue of sufficient medical care and social support for people in case of severe or long-term post-vaccination complications must also be clearly and publicly resolved.

The participants in the round table consider it inadmissible and sinful to spread false teachings, equating vaccination with “accepting the seal of the antichrist”, as well as conspiracy theories about the secret chipping of humanity through vaccination.

The church community is disturbed by the fact that the development of individual vaccines, including some of the vaccines against coronavirus infection COVID-19, used cell cultures grown from human embryonic cells resulting from abortion performed more than half a century ago. . As noted in the Fundamentals of the Social Concept, the Russian Orthodox Church considers inadmissible “the seizure and use of tissues and organs from human embryos aborted at different stages of development for attempts to treat various diseases” (XII.7). It should be noted that according to the developers of the vaccines, they themselves do not contain cells of embryonic origin, and the above-mentioned cell cultures have been used for many years to create vaccines. In addition, as noted by the representatives of the scientific world – participants in the round table – in the testing of the stage of development of vaccines and many other drugs are also used similar embryonic human cell cultures. Noting this situation, the participants in the round table consider it necessary for pharmaceutical companies to look for opportunities to use technologies that exclude the use of these cell cultures.

In connection with the above, the participants in the round table believe that today, in the absence of an affordable alternative, given the threat to human health and life from coronavirus infection COVID-19, the Orthodox person using a vaccine against this disease, created or tested using of embryonic human cell cultures is not complicit in the sin abortion as a result of which these cell cultures were created. Given the choice between such a vaccine and a vaccine developed without the use of embryonic human cell cultures, the participants in the round table recommended the use of the latter as more ethically acceptable.

The participants in the round table call for respect for the positions of those people who consider it possible to use for themselves or their children vaccines prepared using embryonic human cell culture, as well as for those who refuse such use.

The participants in the round table consider it necessary to continue the discussion on the moral aspects of the widespread use in medicine of cell cultures grown from embryonic human cells.

Source: patriarchia.ru

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