Most religions have no prohibition against vaccinations, however some have considerations, concerns or restrictions regarding vaccination in general, particular reasons for vaccination, or specific vaccine ingredients. Below is a list of the current position of some of the more common religious faiths.
Buddhism - Buddhism has no central authority that determines doctrine. Vaccination is widely accepted in predominantly Buddhist countries.
Christianity - The Christian faith consists of multiple different denominations, which may differ in theological approach to vaccines.
The following Christian denominations have no theological objection to vaccination:
- Roman Catholicism
- Eastern Orthodox
- Oriental Orthodox
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon)
- Jehovah's Witness - Note: This denomination originally denounced vaccination, but revised this doctrine in 1952. An article in a recent issue of the church's newsletter promotes vaccination to avoid infectious diseases.
- Methodist (including African Methodist Episcopal)
- Seventh-Day Adventist
The following denominations do have a theological objection to vaccination:
- Dutch Reformed Congregations - This denomination has a tradition of declining immunizations. Some members decline vaccination on the basis that it interferes with divine providence. However, others within the faith accept immunization as a gift from God to be used with gratitude.
- Faith healing denominations including:
- Faith Tabernacle
- Church of the First Born
- Faith Assembly
- End Time Ministrie
- Church of Christ, Scientist - One of the basic teachings of this denomination is that disease can be cured or prevented by focused prayer and members will often request exemptions when available. However, there are not strict rules against vaccination and members can receive required vaccinations.
Hinduism - Hinduism has no prohibition against vaccines. While Hindus venerate cows, trace bovine components of certain vaccines have not been identified as a theological concern.
Islam - Islam has no prohibition to vaccination. There have been several gatherings of Muslim leaders, scholars, and philosophers to address the theological implications of ingredients in food and drugs, including vaccination. The Organization of Islamic Conference and 15th annual conference of the International Fiqh Council both concluded that vaccination is acceptable under Islam. The Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences concluded that porcine gelatin used in vaccines is acceptable. Some muftis (experts in Islamic law) hold that immunization is obligatory (wajib) when the disease risk is high and the vaccine has benefits that far outweigh its risk.
Jainism - Jains follow a path of non-violence toward all living beings including microscopic organisms. Jains do allow cooking, the use of soap and antibiotics, and vaccination, because this destruction of microorganisms, even though regretted, is necessary to protect other lives.
Judaism - Judaism supports vaccination as an action to maintain health, and also as a parental responsibility to protect children against future infection. In Judaism the concept of Pikuakh nefesh, acting to save one's own or another's life, is a primary value. While some vaccines containing porcine derived gelatin, Jewish scholars, agree that porcine gelatin in injectable form is acceptable.
Scientology: in an interview for BeliefNet, Rev. John Carmichael of the Church of Scientology stated that there are no precepts or strictures about vaccinations within Scientology.
For more information about religious beliefs regarding immunizations, please refer to the following:
Grabenstein JD. What the world's religions teach, applied to vaccines and immune globulins. Vaccine. 2013 Apr 12;31(16):2011-23. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.02.026. Epub 2013 Feb 26. PubMed PMID: 23499565.