There is a movement of people in the U,S., and throughout much of the world, called “anti-vaxxers” in relation to the vaccines now available to protect against the pandemic called COVID-19 that has so far killed 600,000 Americans. Yet people getting the COVID-19 vaccine reduces the chance of other people getting this deadly virus because of it is very contagious, thus easily transmittable for human to human. (See my previous post about “Non-Vaxxer Pro Athletes.”
I think anti-vaxxers, who advocate against taking a COVID-19 vaccination, are selfish, that is, if they don’t have health issues that cause them to be hesitant about it. Why? They are a danger to society by telling others not to get the vaccine. They can get COVID-19 and transmit it to others, even giving it to people who have some immunity to COVID-19 because they have antibodies to it, though that is rare. Many people who get the virus do not know they have it because they remain asymptomatic. That creates even more danger to society.
Some anti-vaxxers are such because they don’t trust the government, which advises people to get the COVID-19 vaccination(s). At least in the U.S., in my opinion, that is a foolish position to take. Health authorities are the experts about this. Yes, they may have made mistakes about it in the past, especially early during the pandemic. But this is a novel virus, meaning “new.” So, health experts, such as virologists, epidemiologists, and others are learning about this virus because it never existed before in the human population. Also, the U.S. is experiencing a lot of mistrust of government that is unnecessary and mostly the result of our increasingly partisan politics.
Some people who have refused COVID-19 vaccination have legitimately worried about adverse side effects. Most side effects from a COVID-19 vaccinations are quite benign, especially from those vaccines approved by our CDC or FDA. Some people get a little fever for a few minutes or hours, maybe a rash on their skin for a few days (as I did), but that’s about it. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about adverse side effects from this. For instance, many of the deaths in the VAERS database were caused by other illnesses that happened around the same time as the person got vaccinated, so it had nothing to do with the vaccine.
Most anti-vaxxers take their position by making an argument for human rights, saying it is their right not to vaccinate. Yes, that is true in our society and throughout the world. But it is a selfishness. It is a refusal to care for community.
Several weeks ago, U.S. President Biden announced his goal that our entire population achieve “herd immunity” to COVID-19 by the time of Independence Day on July 4th. Herd immunity for COVID-19 is generally considered by the medical community to be at least 70% of Americans having antibodies to this disease as a result of either having been “fully vaccinated” for it or having antibodies due to having had COVID-19. At the time of Mr. Biden’s announcement, he was confident that the U.S. would achieve this goal. But now, it appears that we will not achieve due to so many Americans refusing to get the vaccination(s) for COVID-19. And this is not just a problem in the U.S.; anti-vaxxers are all over the world.
A large segment of the U.S. population that has anti-vaxxers are White evangelicals. I think that is ridiculous! It goes against what Jesus taught. In all of the sayings of Jesus recorded in the four New Testament gospels, he repeated his teaching of self-denial more than any other of his teachings (e.g., Matthew 10.37-38; 16.24; 19.21, 27-29; Mark 8.34; 10.28-30; Luke 5.11; 9.23; 14.33; 18.28). The classic text is Matthew 16.24 (NRSV): “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.'”
Being human demands that we care for each other. Yet Jesus teaches us to go a step further, even to care more about others than ourselves with his self-denial teaching. As the Old Testament commandment, which Jesus quotes, tells us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19.18; cf. Mark 12.31). Jesus even taught “love your enemies” (Matthew 5.44).
Surely all of this teaching by Jesus should cause us Christians to realize that at least getting a COVID-19 vaccination is loving your neighbors so that they will be less at risk of getting this life-threatening disease. Community is the “greater good” than the individual. People go to war, thus denying themselves, to protect the greater good. Jesus was the great model of dying for the greater good. He died on the cross for our sins, “to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10.45). Surely it is a small thing for each one of us individuals to get a COVID shot, if not for ourselves, at least for others.
What do you think?
(Get Kermit’s latest book, Moses Predicted COVID-19.)