Vaccinations and Christian Social Responsibility

People of Christian faith, such as Edward Jenner1 and Louis Pasteur2, were at the forefront of the development and use of vaccines to prevent serious, sometimes fatal illnesses. Millions of lives have been saved and devastating diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, polio and small pox have been all but relegated to history in many parts of the world.  Serious bacterial infections, pneumonia and meningitis in infants and young children have been drastically reduced with the introduction of conjugate pneumococcal and haemophilus influenza B immunizations.3,4 In high income countries the average 18-year-old will have around 18 vaccines, yet global programs have struggled to improve access to vaccines in LMICs.  Technology has advanced dramatically, including mRNA technology, and serious vaccine side effects are now rare.

There have always been a small minority of Christians who have been against vaccination, but on the whole Christians, like most other world religions, have enthusiastically supported vaccination to save lives. Christian Connections for International Health (CCIH) has collated resources to advocate for immunization uptake.5 Some faith leaders have opposed polio vaccination and served as obstacles to eradication in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.6 

With the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic, within 18 months, and against most expectations, companies and governments have developed highly effective vaccines and delivered 5 billion doses.  Theses vaccines have already saved 100’s of thousands of lives (estimated to be 60,000 in the UK alone).7 However, the success of vaccine deployment is not without its conundrums.  The majority of COVID 19 vaccine doses have been delivered in a minority of high and middle income countries while low and middle income counties have by and large remained unvaccinated.  Despite the public health success story of vaccine development, many have expressed concerns about the rapidity of rollout, the effect of pharmaceutical profit motives which might influence public health decisions, the limited long term safety data, and the ethics of the use of foetal cell lines in the development of viral vector vaccines.   Others have promoted non-scientific claims in regards to vaccine effects on the human genome and resisted government recommendations.  Christians have been well represented in all these camps: aggressively pushing COVID-19 vaccines, hesitant about vaccines and even promoting unscientific ideas and conspiracy theories. 

How have Faith Based organizations mobilized for promoting vaccines in the less-resourced populations they serve? What are examples of Christians working to implement wider vaccine availability globally? How does the Christian faith and theology speak into this field of vaccination?  What Christian principles and scientific evidence should inform our decisions?  How have Christian leaders and health professionals responded to unscientific or insular approaches?  Should Christians support the COVAX facility or GAVI initiative? 

This is a call for papers to generate a robust discussion and evidence around vaccines in our history, our present and into the future.  Ongoing submissions on other topics within the scope of the journal are always welcome.


  1. John J. Heroes of the faith: Edward Jenner. CanonJ.John. [Internet] Available from:
  2. Wilson B. Pasteur's life-saving science rooted in Christian values. The Irish News. 2021 April 22. [Internet] Available from:
  3. Peltola H. Worldwide Haemophilus influenzae type b disease at the beginning of the 21st century: global analysis of the disease burden 25 years after the use of the polysaccharide vaccine and a decade after the advent of conjugates. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2000 Apr;13(2):302-17.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Progress in introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine--worldwide, 2000-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008 Oct 24;57(42):1148-51. PMID: 18946462
  5. Christian Connections for International Health. Immunization. Strategic engagement of religious leaders in COVID-19 vaccination. 2021 Oct 12. [Internet]. Available from:
  6. Shah SZ, Saad M, Rahman Khattak MH, Rizwan M, Haidari A, Idrees F. "Why we could not eradicate polio from pakistan and how can we?". J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad. 2016 Apr-Jun;28(2):423-425. PMID: 28718581.
  7. Public Health England. COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report: Week 30. London: PHE. 2021 July 29. [Internet] Available from: