Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccinations, according to a statement from the Missionary Department of the church.
Instructions came in a letter sent to church leaders in the United States on Friday.
“COVID-19 vaccines are becoming available in many places throughout the world. All missionaries and prospective missionaries are encouraged to safeguard themselves and others by being vaccinated,” the letter said.
Following the Jan. 19 statement from the First Presidency of the church, which includes President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring, individuals are responsible to make their own decisions about vaccinations.
“Under the direction of their mission leaders, mission medical coordinators are monitoring the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in their mission and informing missionaries when they may receive it,” the Friday letter continued.
Young missionaries in the United States who will travel to a mission outside their home country on or after Aug. 1 should be vaccinated before traveling.
Senior missionaries may travel to their assigned mission, where visa and travel conditions permit, after they have been vaccinated.
Missionaries who have begun a COVID-19 vaccination series should complete it before traveling.
“Missionaries who choose not to receive the required immunizations, which will now include the COVID-19 vaccination, will be assigned to a mission in their home country in accordance with existing Church policies,” the Mission Department said.
As the COVID-19 vaccination becomes more widely available in other countries, these missionaries will be asked to be vaccinated before leaving their home country.
In the Jan. 19 First Presidency letter, it states, “In word and deed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported vaccinations for generations. As a prominent component of our humanitarian efforts, the Church has funded, distributed and administered life-saving vaccines throughout the world. Vaccinations have helped curb or eliminate devastating communicable diseases, such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, smallpox and measles. Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life.
“As this pandemic spread across the world, the Church immediately canceled meetings, closed temples, and restricted other activities because of our desire to be good global citizens and do our part to fight the pandemic,” The First Presidency added.