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A Pope, a Fetus, and a Vaccine

A Pope, a Fetus, and a Vaccine

It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, “A Pope, a fetus, and a vaccine walk into a bar and ...”  But as I found out one afternoon, there actually is a connection here.

I was finishing a12-month well child exam and started to talk about the recommended vaccines for that visit including the MMR and Varivax vaccines among others. Mom had not voiced any concerns about previous vaccines the child had received, but this encounter happened at the height of the MMR-autism connection fears in the early 2000’s so I was not surprised when she told me she did not want her child to receive the MMR. I was, however, a little taken aback when she also refused the Varivax. 

Given the political environment, I did not launch into my 10-minute refutation of the Wakefield study (the “soapbox” approach) but instead asked mom what her concerns were (the “motivational interview” approach). She said that she had heard from a fellow Catholic at her church that the MMR and Varivax vaccines were made with aborted fetal tissue and she did not feel morally comfortable using any vaccine made that way. I told mom that I was unaware of this fact and would get back to her. After a little research, I found that she was right. Seven vaccines today are indeed grown in cell lines obtained from two fetuses aborted in the 1960's for therapeutic reasons.

1. There are four vaccines in addition to MMR, Varivax, and Proquad (MMRV) that require fetal cell lines for production. Which of the following are they? (Please choose 4)


B. Hep A

C. Hep B

D. Rabies

E. Zovirax


For answer, discussion, and next question, please click here.


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