With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more accessible throughout the world, the Missionary Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is recommending that all current and prospective missionaries receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Those who decide not to be vaccinated will be assigned to serve in their home countries.

The message was communicated to church leaders in the United States on Friday, April 23, according to a church statement.

“All missionaries and prospective missionaries are encouraged to safeguard themselves and others by being vaccinated,” the statement said. “Individuals are responsible to make their own decisions about vaccination.”

The church’s vaccination policy was emphasized in a recent update of the General Handbook.

President Russell M. Nelson and other senior church leaders were vaccinated in January.

“We have prayed often for this literal godsend,” President Nelson said in a message published on his Facebook and Instagram accounts at that time.

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For missionaries currently in the field, mission leaders and medical coordinators will monitor and enable the COVID-19 vaccination as it is available, the April 23 letter said.

Missionaries who have started a COVID-19 vaccination series should complete it before traveling.

Prospective missionaries in the United States with assignments outside their home country on or after Aug. 1, 2021, should receive the vaccination before departing.

Where visa and travel conditions permit, senior missionaries may travel to their assigned mission “after they have been vaccinated,” the letter said.

The COVID-19 vaccination will now be among the required immunizations for missionary service, the April 23 letter said.

“Missionaries who choose not to receive the required immunizations, which will now include the COVID-19 vaccination, will be assigned to a mission in their home country in accordance with existing Church policies,” the letter said. “As the COVID-19 vaccination becomes more widely available in other countries, these missionaries will be asked to be vaccinated before leaving their home country.”