Archbishop José H. Gomez thanked healthcare workers and expressed support for efforts to vaccinate Southern Californians against COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine himself at Providence St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica Thursday morning.
“I am grateful for the chance to get the vaccine,” Archbishop Gomez said in a Jan. 21 statement. “My thanks to all those in Providence Saint John’s who have been serving our community faithfully during this pandemic."
Archbishop Gomez and Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan both received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine the morning of Jan. 21. The hospital gave orders that they return in three weeks for the required second shot.
Following the injections, the two bishops were required to remain at the hospital for a 15-minute “extended observation period.” Both took the opportunity to pray with and bless members of the hospital’s vaccination team. Neither showed immediate side effects from the injection.
"I am praying today for those who are sick from this virus, for those who have lost loved ones, and I pray that this vaccine will be made available widely in every community," Archbishop Gomez added in his statement. "May our Blessed Mother Mary continue to keep all of us in her tender care.”
In a November 2020 memo, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the first to be approved for use in the U.S., were morally acceptable for Catholics to receive.
While acknowledging that the pharmaceutical companies used a cell line with a “relatively remote” connection to aborted fetal tissue during vaccine testing, the bishops concluded that did not make it “immoral to be vaccinated with them.” They later called getting vaccinated "an act of charity" that supports the common good.
The Vatican has expressed its support for COVID-19 vaccines, declaring them “morally acceptable,” and Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to receive them. He and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI both received their first doses of the vaccine earlier this month at the Vatican.
Earlier this month Los Angeles County public health officials began making COVID-19 vaccination appointments available to residents 65 & older, in addition to frontline healthcare professionals and nursing home residents. Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Aclan are both 69, thus meeting state criteria to receive the shot.