The Orthodox Physicians Society held a round table titled Vaccination: Ethical Problems in Light of Orthodox Doctrine at the Theological Academy of the Meeting of Our Lord. Scientists, clergy having medical experience and scientific education, and public figures discussed vaccination. How does the church treat vaccination, and is it mandatory to get vaccinated?
The speakers stressed that the respective discussion had been going on among the clergy since 2008. The scientists were represented by RAS academician, outstanding pulmonologist and former head of the Ethics Council under the Healthcare Ministry Alexander Chuchalin.
“This meeting has formed a joint position of the Russian Orthodox Church and medical experts in the field of voluntary informed consent. The church believes that vaccine is a good, yet a person should be clearly informed and take a voluntary decision on their own. Under word voluntary, we mean profound respect of human dignity, the person’s autonomy, rights and freedoms of decision making.
I would like to emphasize the great role of the Orthodox Physicians Society and its members who have assumed educative attitude over a long period of time explaining the benefit of vaccine to the people.”
The forum participants discussed the technologies of vaccine production, ethical aspects of the church’s attitude toward the drugs and general questions raised with respect to vaccines. Bishop of Zelenograd Savva, Deputy Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate, summed up the opinion upheld by the majority of forum participants:
“Naturally, we should get vaccinated. It must be done in the conditions of threat to the life and health of people, when the disease takes such dangerous forms as the ones we see today. However, some of the forum participants have mentioned that the people’s right for refusing from vaccination ought to be complied with and respected in case they believe it to be impossible for themselves for some reasons. The execution of this right should not lead to segregation.”
The priest said that the issue of vaccination is a personal moral choice for everyone, including those who contact a great number of people at work. This point of view was backed by clergyman Vladimir Dukhovich, candidate of biology: “The present situation is equivalent to the life-or-death issue, so we have no alternative.”
In an interview to TASS before the forum, on Wednesday, RAS President Alexander Sergeev said that the vaccination must be voluntary: “Every person is free to dispose of their health on their own. That is why I believe that the coronavirus vaccination should be a voluntary act, probably with the exclusion of situations, when vaccination is required for the performance of one’s duties. Here, I mean the military people, doctors, and teachers. Naturally, the process of vaccination ought to be continued in the country. Besides, we should constantly inform people about vaccination protecting the health and saving the lives of people.”