The Big Question: To vax or not to vax?

I had always planned on looking at the questions around vaccination this week, and it just so happens we find ourselves in the middle of another lockdown! I want to stress I understand the different views I have heard. I have friends on all spectrums so there is no judgement as we work through this as a church.

So, should we get vaccinated? I have attempted to answer some of the key questions around vaccination.

Firstly, what do the medical professionals from our church say?

This from our own Dr Nyree Swann: “COVID-19 is easily passed between people.  There is a much higher risk of serious disease and death in vulnerable people (the elderly and those with medical conditions).  We all come into contact with vulnerable people socially, in our families, in care giving roles and our workplaces and schools.  Immunisation significantly reduces the chances of serious illness, hospitalisation and death for an individual.  Immunisation also reduces viral shedding so you are far less likely to pass COVID onto a vulnerable person should you get the virus.  The more people vaccinated in our communities, the better protection we are able to give to vulnerable people. The risk of severe reaction to vaccination is very low.  There are very few medical conditions that put someone at higher risk of severe reaction to the vaccine.  If you have questions about vaccination or are concerned you are at increased risk of side effects due to a medical condition, please talk to your doctor.  Everyone has the right to make an informed decision about vaccination for themselves and their families.” 

This from Dr David Sanni: “Existing and emerging evidence continues to support that the overall benefits of getting vaccinated far outweighs the very uncommon serious adverse effects associated with vaccination. Especially,  in the context of the more aggressive delta strain variant of the virus.”

This from Dr Matthew Jones: ‘Ultimately, all the decisions we make in life are based on risk vs reward. Health care is one area where this is more obvious as every medication has possible adverse effects, so medication should not be taken unless the reward outweighs the risk. People with normal blood pressure do not need to take blood pressure medication – there is no benefit but there is (very small) possible adverse effects.

Vaccinations are no different. The risk has to be balanced with the reward. There is a yellow fever vaccine available, but only people who have a possibility of yellow fever infection (people living in or visiting specific areas of the world) should get that vaccine because otherwise there is no benefit. Likewise, anyone who could possibly be exposed to COVID-19 (i.e. everyone) will get benefit from an effective COVID vaccine because there is a reward – reduced chance of infection and reduced chance of further spreading the infection. Obviously the reward is greater in the susceptible groups (older age, other pre-existing conditions), but it looks like the delta variant is penetrating into the younger and healthier population.

That is the reward component. The risk of taking the vaccine relates to possible adverse effects. There has been much publicised about Astrazeneca adverse effects. This risk is extremely low and I consider this extremely small compared with the possible effects of a severe COVID infection or the ongoing COVID effects post infection.”

Have Jessica and I got the vaccine?

Yes, we feel the risk of complications (incredibly small)  vs the risk of serious illness to ourselves or others (small to moderate) means getting the vaccine an easy choice. Jess has both injections completed with AstraZeneca, and I have had my first Pfizer dose.

Does the bible have a perspective?

I have seen a fair degree of strange argument on this (eg. I don’t believe it is the mark of the beast). My belief is it is not sinful to get the vaccine or to say no to the vaccine. However a general theme of scripture is to be aware of how our actions affect others (Phil 2:5-7, Matt 7:12). The bible always pushes us to have a loving and community mindset. Further to this Paul goes as far as saying we should obey governing authorities (Titus 3:1). Is there a time for disobedience? Yes, but you would want to have a clear word from God or clearly demonstrate where their request is contrary to the word of God.

Shouldn’t I focus on my natural God given immunity?

Yes! But it shouldn’t be either/or, it can be and. Our bodies are a temple for the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 16:19), so we should be as healthy and fit as possible. I don’t believe though this is at the exclusion of modern medicine which boosts the immune system.

I have heard some intriguing conspiracy theories.

There is no way I can comment on all let alone any of the theories out there. I personally have sympathy with Christians and their suspicion of main stream media. This doesn’t mean however we should believe all the alternate theories and views. Here is an article that may help. Also Qld health has a fact checking website. Remember, the vast majority of Christian health care professionals are supportive of this vaccination; they just don’t have websites and social media platforms.

Has it been rushed? Is it untested?

This is getting into areas where I am no expert, however on speaking with health professionals they are quick to point out that in many ways because of the sheer volume of doses delivered (now tens of millions) and resources invested it has had more research and professional testing and safeguarding than your average vaccine. Qld health has a statement on this here.

Can I trust mainstream media?

Not entirely no. However on this issue health professionals from all levels of the political and religious spectrum have overwhelmingly supported being vaccinated.

I have heard that the vaccines were developed using cells from aborted foetuses.

Modern vaccines sometimes do rely on the science gleaned from the tissue from foetuses from many years ago. There is conjecture if the foetal tissue in question was even from a traditional abortion or may have even been from a miscarriage.  It is important to note however, absolutely no cells from foetuses are used in modern vaccine use. While there is good reason to pause on this issue – theologians and Christian thinkers are in agreement that the historical connection to foetal cell lines should not make vaccines off limits. Even conservative Christian movements such as the Southern Baptists and the Catholics have made clear statements that Christians can use these vaccines. (Source)

What does getting the vaccine mean?

It might seem like a simple question but I think it is important. Getting vaccinated means you are vaccinated. It doesn’t mean you are in agreement with how the government has run the whole process, that you are supporting restrictions on basic and religious freedoms, that you are giving over control of your life or that you agree with every scientific position that the government states as fact.

What if I don’t get vaccinated?

My personal view, except for medical reasons, you are putting your health and the health of others at risk. I understand that those choosing not to be vaccinated are not doing so with a careless or heartless attitude but often based on a different perspective. That absolutely is your choice. With my current understanding, I cannot see a day where Catalyst would ever restrict access to our church to those that were unvaccinated, however it is feasible that vulnerable people may be sensitive about being around you. Because of the implications of this decision, I think it is important to reflect on the decision and how you communicate it to others. Your words have impact on this issue and lives may be at stake.

I hope you understand my heart in all of this. I am genuinely concerned for not just our church but for our state and country. Christians have cause to be cautious about directives from our governments and media. The great advice from Jesus, to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves works so well here. Search it out, talk to your doctor, use wisdom, think of others, but also be gentle with different points of view.

11 thoughts on “The Big Question: To vax or not to vax?

  1. What a time to be alive.
    Some discussion points.
    The media says the unvaccinated will be more likely to catch and pass on covid. How is this true?
    If the vaccine works why is this an issue? Herd immunity is usually the answer given but looking at high vaccinated countries I can see that this is not happening and most who are sick with covid are the vaccinated.
    The delta strain is more contagious but less deadly because as it mutates it gets weaker not stronger?
    Depending on the age bracket the survival rate is between 98% and 99.8% approximately and that is very low. What happened to the flu? We lived with the flu with similar death rates and now it has disappeared? Why? Where did it go?
    Have death rates risen around the world? The average is still the same. In a pandemic would they not be much higher?
    People who have died of other causes have on the death certificate Covid.
    People have had severe side effects from the covid vaccine or sadly even death. This should be considered and in any previous vaccine would have been halted by now.
    On the official sites it reads the covid vaccines that are available are all a clinical trial. Does this mean that they have not been tested properly before being given to humans? Can they only be used in an Emergency situation and that keeps getting extended.
    The makers of the vaccine plus doctors all have indemnity. If the vaccine is safe why is this given? The history of each of the vaccine inventors. They all have paid very large amounts out and do not read to be trustworthy. Why should they be trusted now?
    The pcr tests give many false positives and the inventor has been quoted as saying the pcr test is not designed to diagnose.
    Is the virus isolated? If the virus is not isolated what are we testing for?
    What revolution is the pcr being tested at? 25? 45? The higher the revolution the more chance it will be a false positive.
    The aborted fetal cells are used in the making of the vaccine if not in the vaccine. Why do we not have religious exemptions?
    Is the vaccine like any other vaccine ever made or is it new technology? If it’s new technology how is it different?
    What about spike proteins?
    I think everyone should have these types of questions honestly answered. Many doctors are speaking out but being censored. Should we be concerned? I believe it should be a choice to take or not take the covid vaccine without disadvantage.
    Is it the mark of the beast? No it is not. Could it be in the future or used in this way? Absolutely.

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    1. Hi Francis, I am not the right person to respond to your questions. I can see you have many of them!
      My feeling would be to go to good fact checking websites (I mention one in my article).
      On a biblical perspective I have a pastor friend who wrote this article – https://andrewcorbett.blogspot.com/2021/07/what-christ-said-was-not-just-about.html?fbclid=IwAR0jEkWFvgGqX0VHU8fWbHFzfAt_6LP7pJWsPopK7iYSd7zyK2nPyV62DsE

      Sorry that I cannot be of more help here.

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  2. The main concern from this type of discussion is the division I am seeing among Christians.
    Christians should not be the cause. This is a personal choice. Tolerance of discrimination towards the unvaccinated is never acceptable. Unfortunately this is already starting to happen. Vaccination certificates, employers mandating, businesses stopping admission, travel restrictions or the basics of just buying food.
    Let’s not add to this.
    Where there is RISK, there should be CHOICE.
    I pray that as Christians we can lead the way by showing love, compassion and acceptance not judgement.

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    1. I tend to agree, let’s do our absolute best not to discriminate against people making individual choices.

      However I do struggle with this call of ‘no judgement’ that I see out there. The one thing to note is there has always been the titanic struggle between the individual choice vs the community choice. Finding the perfect middle ground here is nearly impossible as they conflict. We absolutely will step on each others toes as we work through this, not always because we are judging each other but because two equally true and valid values are coming into conflict.

      For example if somebody chooses not to get vaccinated, that is a perfectly legitimate choice. But that choice does impact on the community. It makes the unvaccinated potentially a risk to other vulnerable people. So the choice not to get vaccinated has carry on effects. For example if I choose to speed because I know I am a safe driver, that is my right, but I also shouldn’t feel ‘judged’ if the police book me because society has made a value decision that opposes individual choice. It is complex.

      I am NOT saying I agree with vaccine passports or extreme discrimination, just that it isn’t as simple as somebody not getting vaccinated and then saying it should have no consequences or that any questions around that choice are ‘judging’ the other person.

      No matter what we can all love and respect each other, which is exactly what you are ultimately hoping for.

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  3. I’m sorry that some vulnerable people are unnecessarily fearful of the unvaccinated.
    It is fact that the vaccinated also spread covid and possibly even more.
    Discrimination being mild or severe is still discrimination.
    It is not fair to compare the unvaccinated to a speeding driver being wrong and the vaccinated to a law abiding citizen being right.
    If this is the train of thought people will always view the unvaccinated as wrong even if they did have a choice.

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    1. The interesting thing is I didn’t say the speeding driver was wrong – you made that assumption. That is the point, society made the call on speed limits even though many people can safely drive a few ks over the limit. I am not saying the person speeding or who is unvaccinated is wrong just that they are doing something that society says isn’t safe. It isn’t judgement to have the debate over where the safe standards should be set.

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  4. No you did not say it but you did intend it and for the reader to be lead into thinking the way of right and wrong which I highlighted as a not fair comparison. If you didn’t intend it I’m sorry, but it’s not a comparison that’s at all helpful.
    The thing is society is not in agreement with every person being told to vaccinate by volunteering or being mandated. To even suggest the whole of society is thinking this way is not close to correct.
    The vaccines are all only provisionally approved under a state of emergency meaning they are all a clinical trial at the moment. The guinea pig stage.

    If anyone can’t answer my initial questions regarding the vaccine, you did say you were the wrong person to ask, how can anyone suggest the vaccine is either good or bad, right or wrong for anyone including themselves?

    It is still coming back to a portion of society making an informed choice about a medical procedure for their body and a portion of society deciding that they made the wrong choice. If it stopped here and society could agree to disagree it would be a peaceful outcome. Discrimination will most likely happen. It saddens me that it appears to be coming from fellow Christians. The last thing should be division among believers and people feeling they can’t turn to the church or feeling unwelcome worshipping in a church they have been attending.
    I pray this is not going to be the culture going forward.

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    1. Hi again Franics, when I mention society I am referencing the democracy we live in. So ultimatley the government of the day represents (hopefully) the views of society. So it will never be 100% just the majority view. The good thing is in a democracy we can vote them out if we don’t like what they say and do.

      I just mention that I am not the right person to answer your in depth questions, not that there aren’t good answers. I suggest looking at the faq section of the Qld health website to start. You will find a link in my article where Qld health makes it clear that the approval process of the vaccine in Australia was not rushed and it is not untested.

      I do agree that churches should always be welcoming. Disagreement in church life is not a new thing, it was very evident even in the early church. But disagreement doesn’t need to mean discrimination or unloving. We need to be able to live with the tension of disagreement.

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  5. Regarding fact checkers.
    What business or government or person/s own , control and pays the fact checkers? Who fact checks the fact checkers?
    You may find that the fact checkers are biased.
    Quoting government is also just repeating the same information without any independent research.
    Medical/health employees or owners of medical/health companies are not allowed to speak up and go against what they are told either.
    What happens to the ones who do?

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    1. I understand your point, but I think we need to be careful not to be too cynical. When we are suspicious of everyone and everything it breeds bad decision making. My article lists three independent doctors. There is overwhelming medical support from independent bodies such as the AMA https://www.ama.com.au/covid-19 and many more. My best advice is to speak to your own doctor and ask his or her opinion.

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