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Churches in New York Serve as Vaccination Sites

Orthodox Churches vaccination
Elpidophoros: Vaccination is the surest way to keep ourselves and each other safe. Credit: Twitter/Archibishop Elpidophoros

Five Greek Orthodox churches in New York served as mobile vaccination sites last weekend as the Archdiocese teamed up with the US Department of Health and Human Services and NYC Health and Hospitals to help bolster vaccine access within the broader community.

“Our parishes are spaces for public good, where we can gather, without judgment, to help one another care for the health of the whole person, soul and body,” Elpidophoros, the Archibishop of America, said in a post on his Instagram account.

“In this pandemic, vaccination is the surest way to keep ourselves and each other safe, especially our loved ones and neighbors most vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus.”

The Archbishop said he visited St. John the Baptist Church on January 23, where he had the opportunity to meet with the health care professionals administering vaccines and tests, and spend some time with Rev. Que English and Dr. Dara Kass from HHS, whose expertise was “an enormous help,” as the Orthodox Church launched its vaccination initiative.

“We discussed how different faith communities can work together and best use the spaces and tools at our disposal to support and care for one another during times of uncertainty,” he added.

Greek Orthodox Church encourages vaccination

Last September Archbishop Elpidophoros and the Holy Eparchal Synod clarified that there is no religious exemption from any vaccine, including the one against Covid-19.

“Although some may be exempt from the vaccination for clear medical reasons, there is no exemption in the Orthodox Church for her faithful from any vaccination for religious reasons, including the coronavirus vaccine,” the Holy Eparchal Synod said in a statement after a regular meeting via video conference.

“For this reason, letters of exemption for the vaccination against the coronavirus for religious purposes issued by priests of the Archdiocese of America have no validity, and furthermore, no clergy are to issue such religious exemption letters for any reason,” it added.

The hierarchs unanimously affirmed that the Church “not only permits vaccinations against diseases but … encourages the faithful, after medical tests and approbations, to be vaccinated with the approved vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.”

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