Last month Archbishop Alexander Sample described wearing a mask as a demonstration of charity, of showing love for God and neighbor.

His words echoed a week later when the chairmen of the U.S. bishops’ doctrine and pro-life committees urged Catholics to get the COVID-19 vaccine as “an act of charity” and “an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”

The Vatican and bishops are advocating that Catholics receive the vaccine despite fetal cells having been used in its creation. The gravity of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of alternative vaccines are sufficiently serious reasons to do so, the bishops said.

We hope Catholics — and all people of good will — will heed their words.

Refusing the vaccine compromises herd immunity and speeds the disease’s spread. It’s simple cause and effect. Until the pandemic is under control, fewer people will be at work, fewer children at school, more families evicted and more people dead.

Like other life issues, getting the vaccine should not be determined by lifestyle choices or happenstance. It is not predicated on whether a person is healthy or unafraid of getting COVID-19. It is about protecting life.

A rejoinder of courage — a willingness to sacrifice and risk oneself for the good of all — should be the response to those injecting fear into the conversation.

Not that there’s much sacrifice or risk. Just 1 in 1 million may suffer a severe allergic reaction after receiving the vaccine, according to a Chapel Hill Medical School (North Carolina) allergy specialist. Some people may be headachy and fatigued for a day or two.

Fortunately, the vaccine does not change a recipient’s DNA or insert tracking microchips, as rumormongers have suggested.

“God gives us both faith and reason,” Archbishop Sample said in December. “God expects us to use both.”