Catholics in Vermont have been asked to abstain from giving the sign of peace and receiving Communion from the chalice for six months as a “protective measure” from the flu.
"Because of the flu vaccine shortage, I am requesting that, as a protective measure in the Diocese of Burlington, we do not give the ‘Sign of Peace’ or the chalice for Communion, starting Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004, and remaining in effect until Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005," said Bishop Kenneth Angell of Burlington, Vermont, in an official written notice to the state’s 130 Catholic parishes.
The bishop ends his memo: "Praying for the good health of all, especially those most at risk."
Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, is planning to meet with priests next month to discuss flu-related concerns.
There was a shortage of flu vaccine this year because the bulk of this year’s supply was found to be contaminated with bacteria.
Catholics are the largest Christian group in Vermont. The state’s other Christian denominations have not yet taken such precautions.