22 February 2011Dear (Name of Sender),
Your letter regarding immunization of missionaries and other issues was received and reviewed. It has been a long standing policy of the General Authorities of the Missionary Department to recommend general immunization of missionaries and immunization specific to countries where missionaries are assigned to serve that may be required for entry to those countries. Immunization is not a requirement for missionary service. Missionaries are free to opt out of any or all immunization. (Typo theirs) Should they do so, it will affect where they are assigned to serve. That is, those without immunization will be assigned to serve in their country of residence.
Donald B. Doty, M.D.
Chairman, Missionary Department Health Services
Now if any of you read this and were a little puzzled, join the club. I’ve heard of numerous instances prior to February 2011 where prospective missionaries were told they would not leave their hometown to serve a mission unless they had been vaccinated. Furthermore, the Utah Department of Health’s page on mission vaccinations read “required” up until the new April 2011 guidelines were issued which explicitly say that vaccines are now recommended and not required for missionaries. So obviously it was not a longstanding policy to “recommend” immunizations. However, we won’t quibble over the details like a dance of the semantic shuffle. The important thing is that there is now choice in the matter. And if I were going on a mission, I would gladly serve in Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming rather than inject myself with carcinogens, animal viruses, and aborted fetal cell cultures to serve in a tropical paradise! No offense to the people of Utah, Idaho, or Wyoming, sending lots of good vibes your way. :)