Health Minister Robin Swann has asked people objecting to Covid-19 vaccination on anti-abortion grounds to think again.
The Minister said some pro-life activists are ‘ironically criticising’ a vaccination programme that will save many lives.
His comments come after social media postings from Ballymena based councillor John Carson claiming human tissue was used in the vaccinations captured local headlines.
“The Covid-19 vaccination programme is not compulsory. People are entitled to their own views and I fully respect that.
“However, they are not entitled to mislead others and potentially deter them from taking a vaccine that will protect them from a lethal virus.
“Making unfounded claims on social media is overstepping the line and I urge them to think again.
“Firstly, it should be stressed that the Pfizer vaccine does not contain any human cells.
“Secondly, and crucially, It must be remembered that vaccines have saved millions of lives worldwide.
“We need widespread take-up of the Covid-19 vaccine in NI to protect the population, particularly older and vulnerable citizens in our community. Widespread take-up will also help us move gradually towards the easing of restrictions in society.
“It is disappointing that people calling themselves pro-life would be objecting to vaccination programme that will save many lives.”
"It is the case that the development and testing of some vaccines can include the use of human cell lines grown in labs, having been replicated from fetal cells obtained in previous decades following abortions.
“If people want to object on those grounds and leave themselves unprotected from Covid-19 that is their choice. They will be at odds with other pro-life advocates including the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference who issued a very clear statement this week.
“Any link between any vaccination development and abortions is incidental and remote, involving cells replicated in labs.
“As the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference stated, refusal to accept a vaccine could contribute to significant loss of life in the community and especially among those who are most vulnerable.
“In matters of conscience, I believe saving the lives of our fellow citizens in the here and now must come first.”