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.