In its continuing partnership with the public health departments of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the Diocese is coordinating distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine at several parishes throughout the Diocese.
Beginning in February, those who fit designated priority categories will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at designated dates and times at St. Adelaide Parish in Highland, St. George Parish in Ontario, Holy Family Parish in Hesperia, and St. Joseph Parish in Barstow. The list of parishes in Riverside County that will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine had not been finalized at press time.
“Our parish will be a center for the High Desert to be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Father Reginald Ibe, Administrator of Holy Family Parish. “I think the people will like it because they can drive just 10 or 20 minutes to get it here.”
Since late 2020 the Diocese has worked with both counties to provide shots for the seasonal flu and opportunities to get tested for COVID-19. Help was sought from the Church because it is seen as having a high degree of credibility with parishioners. County health department workers have provided flu shots and COVID-19 testing at designated dates and times at parishes in especially hard-hit areas like the Coachella Valley and the High Desert.
COVID-19 vaccination will be added to the list of health services provided at the parishes, with designated dates and times, and registration information, posted on the parish websites. Bishop Alberto Rojas has publicly encouraged parishioners to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and, himself, received it at St. Mary Regional Medical Center in Apple Valley. The Bishops of California have also mounted a campaign to encourage the faithful to receive either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Their recent statement reads:
“In partnership with the Catholic health systems and Catholic Charities throughout the Golden State, the Catholic Bishops of California urge all Californians to receive a vaccination to prevent the continued spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than two million people worldwide,” reads a statement from the California Bishops.
“As the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has said, the vaccines now available and offered (Pfizer and Moderna) and those currently in the testing approval/process (AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson) are morally permissible and can be used in good conscience.
“Beyond simply protecting their own health and safety, Catholics also have an obligation to protect their family, friends and community by vaccinating as soon as feasible in accordance with public health guidelines and protocols in their area. One should always consult with their doctor regarding any personal medical concerns.”