SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Church leaders received a message from the Missionary Department, saying, “All missionaries and prospective missionaries are encouraged to safeguard themselves and others by being vaccinated.”

The message goes on to say that “Individuals are responsible to make their own decisions about vaccination” based on a January statement from the First Presidency.

Currently, mission medical coordinators are under direction to monitor the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in their mission and informing missionaries when they may receive it, according to the Church.

Young U.S. missionaries that are traveling to a mission outside of their home country on or after August 1, 2021, should be vaccinated before leaving, the message explains. Senior missionaries can travel to their assigned mission – where visa and travel conditions permit – after they have been vaccinated.

Missionaries that have begun a COVID-19 vaccine series – meaning they’ve received the first shot of either Pfizer or Moderna – are encouraged to complete it before traveling.

The Church says missionaries who choose not to receive required immunizations, now including the COVID-19 vaccine, will be assigned to a mission in their home country based on existing policies.

“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,” the message adds.