LEICESTER, United Kingdom – After it was announced the offices of the Diocese of Plymouth will be used as a base to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, Church officials said it was “an important act of service for the common good of all.”

The United Kingdom was the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, and it began being distributed on Dec. 8.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday that over 137,000 people have already received the first dose of the vaccine.

The National Health Service (NHS) is setting up several locations to serve as vaccination centers to make it easier for people to receive the vaccine.

“I warmly welcome the NHS to St Boniface House, our Diocesan Offices, so that they can be used as a base to administer the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth.

St. Boniface house is near the town Newton Abbot in Devon, in the southwest of England.

“The Church is very happy to cooperate with the Government in this endeavor, as a service to local communities,” the bishop continued.

“This is an extension of the work that has been carried out in our churches during this pandemic, in reaching out, in the name of Jesus Our Lord, to our neighbors and to ensure their wellbeing. This next step with the vaccine is a sign of hope for us all,” he added.

RELATED: UK bishops say it’s not sin to receive COVID-19 vaccine

There has been a bioethical debate surrounding the development of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are developed using cell lines that continue multiplying indefinitely from a tissue sample. Two such cell lines, the HEK 293 from the 1970s and the PER C6 cell line from the 1980s, originate in tissue from an aborted child.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine did not use these cell lines in development and production, but did use them in testing.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pontifical Academy of Life have expressed the view that one may in good conscience and for a grave reason receive a vaccine sourced in this way, provided that there is a sufficient moral distance between the present administration of the vaccine and the original wrongful action.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement saying during the COVID-19 pandemic, “we judge that this grave reason exists and that one does not sin by receiving the vaccine.”

Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome