Image by Joe Ravi

There are now three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use by the United States government. By all accounts, this is great news — unless, apparently, you're responsible for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, in which case you're busy telling your community that the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine is "morally compromised."

The Archdiocese released a statement urging Catholics to avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it was developed using lines of stem cells that were first obtained from aborted fetal tissue, according to The Washington Post. Ironically, this pits the bishops of the New Orleans Archdiocese against both Pope Francis and the governor of the Vatican, both of whom have endorsed the vaccines given the urgency of the pandemic.

To be clear, if you are offered any of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA, you should almost certainly take it. Hopefully, Catholics living in New Orleans heed the Vatican instead of the local church, which is wielding medical misinformation and fearmongering in a way that seems all-but-certain to get people killed.

Last year, the Vatican issued a statement saying that "it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process." And while the Pope hasn't specifically weighed in on the Johnson & Johnson shot, he has adopted an "aggressively pro-vaccine" stance, as The Washington Post phrased it.

It benefits no one to sit here and offer up a lecture on morality. But the coronavirus vaccines we have today are effective and safe — not just when it comes to protecting the recipient but also as part of the mission to eventually reach herd immunity and stop the coronavirus from spreading.

"If you go to a place and you have J&J, and that’s the one that’s available now, I would take it," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top White House coronavirus advisor, told NBC on Sunday. "I think people need to get vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible."