Spiritual Questions About the Vaccine
Does trusting the vaccine mean distrusting God?
People of faith place a high premium on trust in God. It can seem as if trust in a human-made vaccine belittles trust in God. However, these two ideas are not mutually exclusive.
All that is good and beautiful belongs to God. Just as God gives wisdom to a teacher or leader, God gives wisdom to medical professionals. We trust medical professionals with things like cancer and broken bones. The vaccine is simply an extension of that trust.
Almost every area of our lives is built on faith; electricity, modern medicine, computing, and engineering represent our trust in educated professionals. The vaccines are no different.
It is a sacred practice to trust the wisdom of others. It is an exercise in humility. There will always be people who know more than we do.
Does taking the vaccine support abortion?
Many people of faith have a strong pro-life ethic. Often there is the concern that vaccines are developed from aborted stem cells. It is important to understand that most stem cell research began over 50 years ago, and any stem cells aiding in research today are very old. The consensus of leading bioethicists is that this distant connection should not discourage pro-life people of faith from taking the vaccine.
As a person of faith, Dr. Francis Collins, recently retired head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has affirmed that the vaccines do not contain fetal tissue, and that taking a vaccine does not mean abandoning pro-life convictions.
One specific example comes from the Catholic Church. The Vatican recently gave approval to using vaccines. In addition, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has approved of vaccinations. Conservative leaning bioethicists, such as those associated with pro-life foundations like the Heritage Foundation, have also joined in the approval. Similarly, many Jewish and Muslim leaders have expressed ethical support for vaccines.
People of faith can trust these organizations and be assured that there is no moral or ethical reason to not get vaccinated. A pro-life ethic is about protecting the sacredness of ALL life. Over 900,000 people have died of COVID-19. It certainly is a LIFE issue.
What does Christianity have to do with the vaccine?
Many Christians wonder whether there is a connection between faith and the vaccine. There are biblical truths that will lead a Christian to being vaccinated. One important passage referenced in many of our faith leaders’ videos is found in Mark 12:30-31. Here Jesus indicates the two greatest commandments are to “love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Vaccination is about protecting yourself AND others. It’s hard to understand Christianity apart from a concern for others. Sadly, an individualist approach to the Christian faith is so prevalent in modern, American Christianity. What does it look like to have a faith beyond self, motivated by serving our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors?
Christians were on the front lines of beating polio, smallpox, measles and other deadly diseases throughout the history of vaccines. The COVID vaccine provides a new opportunity to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Is the vaccine the “Mark of the Beast”?
This is an important issue for Christians in particular. Throughout history, some Christians maintain that modern institutions represent end times or the mark of the beast. At times Christians have believed that social security numbers, area codes, and credit card numbers are part of the end times.
Your interpretive framework for the biblical book of Revelation will have a significant impact on how you understand current events. For help in understanding Revelation, and end times prophecy, watch this insightful video from BibleProject.
Should Jewish people get vaccinated?
One of Judaism’s most important teachings is found in Leviticus 19:18, and it is at the center of the Torah’s central book. The teaching is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Vaccination provides the opportunity to love your neighbors by protecting their health.
Additionally, taking care of your health is mitzvah, which means it is an obligation. The Torah teaches that our bodies are a gift from God. This means we are to care for and protect our bodies as much as we are able. A Jewish person should avoid bodily danger according to the final chapter of the Code of Jewish law, “Just as there is a positive commandment to build a guardrail around the perimeter of a rooftop lest someone fall, so too are we obligated to guard ourselves from anything that would endanger our lives.”
What about Islam and the vaccine?
The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: “There is no disease that God has created for which He has not made a cure that is known by some people and unbeknownst to others, except death.” (Authenticated by Ibn Majah)
The vaccine has been endorsed by many Muslim leaders and organizations. The National Muslim Task Force on COVID-19 and the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition have recommended the vaccine. They write: “The Taskforce and Coalition recommend individuals obtain the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after discussing with your physician or healthcare provider and in-line with your local public health guidance.”
None of the three major vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J) contain animal derivatives.
Medical Questions About the Vaccine
Why should I get vaccinated?
Vaccinations help prevent hospitalization and death. In most cases, vaccines will prevent you from catching COVID-19. In the rare case you do get sick, the vaccination is still protective.
When you protect yourself, you protect those around you, especially those with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or those who can’t get vaccinated. Infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems (such as chemotherapy from cancer) are especially vulnerable.
The vaccination is new, why should I trust it?
An illustration is helpful: When buying a 2022 automobile, most consumers to do not say, “This is a new car, I’ll wait and see how it performs, I don’t want to be unsafe.” No, we have been making automobiles since 1886. We understand the science and what is required to make a safe automobile. Similarly, we have been making vaccinations since 1796. We understand the science and what is required to make safe vaccinations.
The science didn’t start from square one. Rather, the COVID-19 vaccine was developed after several centuries of vaccinology.
People with the vaccine are still getting sick, so why should I get vaccinated?
It is true that vaccinated individuals can still get sick and spread COVID-19. However, this does not suggest the vaccine is not extremely useful and effective. One doctor was asked, “People with the vaccine can still get sick, so why get vaccinated?” She responded, “Both Serena Williams and I play tennis.” The point is, yes, you can still get sick, but there is a big difference.
The fact is that the vaccination dramatically prevents severe illness, hospitalization and death. Even if you are vaccinated and get COVID-19, you will “perform” much better than someone who is not vaccinated.
Is the COVID vaccine safe?
As people of faith and goodwill, it’s important we trust the thousands of participants in clinical trials and the approval from the FDA. With so much disinformation on the internet, it’s easy to get distracted from the truth.
There were rigorous trials conducted by the FDA; an extremely risky vaccine would not be approved. In addition, over 521 million vaccines have been administered in the United States. Allow that number to sink in, 521 million. Additionally, over 9.57 billion shots have been given across the globe.
This vaccine has been the MOST monitored vaccine in history. If this vaccine were unsafe, we would know by now. Additionally, scientists got a head start after developing similar vaccines for other types of coronaviruses (2003 SARS and 2012 MERS).
Should I be concerned about long term side effects?
The vaccine is safe and effective. It has been taken by billions of people across the globe. Vaccine side effects almost always occur in the first two months. For this reason, the FDA required a clinical trial period of at least two months.
If you have concerns about side effects, speak to your doctor. With so much disinformation on the internet, it’s important to consult licensed medical professionals. Any online source that doesn’t encourage you to speak with your doctor for medical advice should not be trusted.
If you don’t have health insurance or a doctor, you can go to urgent care or any major hospital or pharmacy for consultation. Vaccines are free to everyone.
One should also factor in potential long term side effects of contracting COVID-19. Many who get sick from COVID-19 experience long-term symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty breathing, and ongoing pain in the chest and joints.
Will the COVID vaccine change my DNA?
This is a false claim found online. COVID-19 vaccines do NOT alter your DNA in any way. Some confusion has occurred because of two vaccine types (RNA, mRNA). Despite the similar names, these vaccines do not affect your DNA.
How were the COVID vaccines made so quickly? Were corners cut?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. It spread at a rapid rate, quickly killing tens of thousands. The rapid spread made vaccine development a top priority for the entire world. Billions of dollars in funding and the world’s top scientists were employed to create a vaccination with great urgency.
The speed of development depended on four key factors.
Collaboration between researchers and medical experts.
Scientists got a head start after developing vaccines for other types of coronaviruses (2003 SARS and 2012 MERS).
Clearing out unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape in the approval process, focusing primarily on rigorous safety standards.
No corners were cut. No changes were made to safety requirements.
What if I’m just a cautious person? Aren’t I just avoiding risk by not taking the vaccine?
Any risk from the vaccine is extremely small and highly unlikely. It is true you can avoid these minimal risks by avoiding the vaccine; however, it is a fact that skipping the vaccine increases your own risk of getting sick with COVID-19. It also increases the likelihood that you will spread the vaccine to someone else.
If you’re a cautious person, it would be logical to avoid the greatest risk, which is death. Additionally, there is a real risk of long-term side effects from getting COVID-19.
How were the vaccines tested for safety?
The FDA approval process for a vaccine is extensive. It happens in three phases.
PHASE 1: The vaccine is tested on a small group of healthy adults, 20-80 people. Side effects and immune responses are carefully studied.
PHASE 2: Various doses of the vaccine are given to hundreds of adults. The results are studied; safety and effectiveness are carefully observed.
PHASE 3: The study is broadened to include thousands of adults with a variety of ages and backgrounds. Effectiveness and safety are compared to those who receive a placebo.
If I’ve already had COVID-19, should I take the vaccine?
Yes, eventually the antibodies your body generates from having COVID-19 will go away. Getting vaccinated will help to ensure ongoing protection.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, talk to your doctor about when you should be vaccinated. If you are currently infected with COVID-19, you should wait to get vaccinated until after your recovery.
Content credit: Some answers for this section were borrowed
and/or adapted from the website christiansandthevaccine.com.