Missionaries Who Refuse Vaccination Will Serve in Home Countries

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Geoff Openshaw

Geoff Openshaw

Aligning with a policy regarding other vaccination requirements, missionaries looking to serve abroad must receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this year, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if able to do so. This guidance was also geared at full-time missionaries, who represent the Church for 18 or 24 months, often in exotic locales, like Boise, Idaho. At the time, the First Presidency stressed that vaccination, while encouraged, was still a personal choice. Today, the Church updated guidelines for missionaries reaffirming the individual choices involved in vaccines, but changing requirements and the type of work available to missionaries based on those choices.

A letter dated April 23, 2021 from the Missionary Department reminds all missionaries and prospective missionaries that they are “encouraged to safeguard themselves and others by being vaccinated,” noting that COVID-19 are becoming more readily available by the day.

However, now and young missionaries (i.e. not senior couples) from the United States who are called to serve outside their home country on or after August 1, 2021 must be vaccinated before traveling. If receiving multiple doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the entire vaccination series must be completed before traveling.

The letter notes that missionaries have long been required to receive various vaccinations to travel abroad, and the COVID-19 vaccine is simply one among a handful. If missionaries elect not to receive the “required immunizations,” they will be assigned to labor within their home country and will not fulfill a mission abroad.

But what about missionaries coming from outside the United States? The Church is taking a pragmatic approach based on the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine abroad. As it becomes more easily accessible around the world, missionaries in other countries will also be asked to be vaccinated prior to missionary service outside their country of origin.

The move marks an adjustment to guidance in March that did not require missionaries in Utah to get vaccinated. At the time, many individuals noted that vaccines are typically required for missionaries looking to serve outside of their home countries. Today’s announcement formalizes that standard as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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