Australia's medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has now approved both the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine and the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for use in Australia.

In a letter addressed to the lay faithful, religious and clergy, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli welcomed the arrival of the first batch of vaccines, and acknowledged that while none of the vaccines are a cure for COVID-19, they will for the time being provide a significant measure of protection from the worst effects of the virus.

'Soon the most vulnerable people in our country – our frontline workers and those at greatest risk – will receive their first dose against the COVID-19 virus,' said Archbishop Comensoli, who is also Chair of the Australian Bishops Commission for Life, Family and Public Engagement.

'For the common good, it is appropriate that our governments work together to roll out a nation-wide process of vaccination for all residents. Likewise, for the common good, everyone should respect the decisions of individuals who, for medical, safety or moral reasons, are not ready to receive a vaccination immediately.

He reiterated that the Catholic Bishops of Australia endorse the efforts to offer vaccination as soon as possible to all who can safely receive one.

'I will be grateful to receive a vaccination when my turn in the staged roll-out comes around.'

Archbishop Comensoli encouraged the state and federal governments to continue to work together to facilitate the nationwide vaccination rollout.

'I encourage the Australian government to do all it can to make a vaccine choice available to all residents in Australia as soon as possible, and offer the same care to our poorer neighbouring countries.'

Read the Archbishop's letter below:

Tuesday 16 February, 2021
To the Laity, Religious and Clergy of the Archdiocese of Melbourne

Vaccine Program


Dear Friends,

It is welcome news that the first batches of the Pfizer vaccine have arrived in Australia.

Soon the most vulnerable people in our country – our frontline workers and those at greatest risk – will receive their first dose against the COVID-19 virus.

I will be grateful to receive a vaccination when my turn in the staged roll-out comes around.

None of the vaccines are a cure for COVID-19, but indications are that they provide a significant measure of protection from the worst effects of the virus, for the time being.

For the common good, it is appropriate that our governments work together to roll out a nation-wide process of vaccination for all residents.

Likewise, for the common good, everyone should respect the decisions of individuals who, for medical, safety or moral reasons, are not ready to receive a vaccination immediately.

At this early stage in measuring the longer-term effectiveness and safety of each of the COVID-19 vaccines, calls for a ‘No jab, no service’ policy would be unjust.

The Catholic Bishops have already endorsed efforts to offer a vaccination as soon as possible to all who can safely receive one.

However, the Government has indicated that there is likely to be little, if any, choice as to which vaccine will be available to individuals in the shorter term.

This means that you can receive any one of the three vaccines to be made available, without moral complicity in the processes of its development. On balance, it is a good thing to do.

For anyone with health and safety concerns, please speak with your family doctor.

For anyone with ethical questions, please read the statement issued by the Vatican or speak with your Pastor.

I encourage the Australian government to do all it can to make a vaccine choice available to all residents in Australia as soon as possible, and offer the same care to our poorer neighbouring countries.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by this pandemic, and to work in whatever way you can to support your neighbour in need. The God of mercy and compassion is present to us all, through the tender heads, hearts and hands we offer to one another.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Archbishop of Melbourne