WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE?
By: ALLISON SPAUDE BAN, RN
“Since you’re a nurse, you might know the answer to this question…” It’s not uncommon for family, friends, and church members to ask a nurse for their opinion on a health problem. Sometimes, it’s an easy question, but sometimes it can be really hard to know what to say. As nurses we never want to give anyone incorrect information that could be detrimental to someone else’s health. So what will you say when someone asks, “What do you think of the Covid-19 vaccine?”
For those nurses who work directly with Covid-19 patients, do you ever think back to your first positive patient? There are details that I remember about the patient, but I also remember this uncomfortable feeling of not knowing if our treatment plan was right or if it would help her recover. It was as if she was a part of a clinical trial for which she had not volunteered. We started out giving hydroxychloroquine. Then we stopped doing that. Next there was high amounts of vitamin C and daily zinc. Following that we started to give convalescent plasma and an antiviral called remdesivir. With these treatments, some of my patients have improved and transferred out of the ICU. Many have not. Despite a lot of hard work by researchers over the past nine months, we still do not have a cure for this virus. If we continue to fight this virus with only treatment, we are bound to be in a health crisis for a long time to come.
Now that a vaccine is available, we don't have to just rely on treating the virus. We also have the opportunity to prevent the disease from spreading in the first place. The Pfizer vaccine, the first vaccine to be approved by the FDA for administration, is 95% effective as early as 7 days after the second dose (Pfizer Inc & BioNTech SE, 2020). This gives us proof that the vaccine can prevent people from becoming seriously ill and spreading the virus. Yes, the vaccine was produced in record-breaking time, which is one reason some are hesitant to receive the vaccine. However, we can give thanks to God that we live in a country where both the public and private sectors were able to come together to produce a safe and effective vaccine. The federal government was able to supply billions of dollars to fund the research. American companies and companies from around the world partnered to produce a vaccine. Tens of thousands of volunteers stepped forward and immediately participated in clinical trials. Distribution companies organized quickly to gather the materials necessary to mass produce the product. For other vaccines, this chain of events can take years to complete instead of months (American Broadcasting Company, 2020). Our country is blessed to have the resources and ability to accomplish this task so efficiently.
The vaccine may be exactly what we need to get the virus under control, and we can feel the pressure from the scientific community to receive the vaccine as soon as it is available for us. But as Christians, does the Bible say anything as far as what we should do? Not surprisingly, vaccines are nowhere to be found in the Bible -- they hadn’t been invented yet!
But the Bible is very clear that God has given humans the ability to make decisions for ourselves. God has given you the ability to decide whether you would like to receive the vaccine or not. However, the Bible does say a lot about the attitude we should have as we make decisions in our day to day life. Philippians chapter 2 starts with a section called “Imitating Christ’s Humility” and verses 3-4 say “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Receiving the vaccine is one way for Christians to make it known that we care about other people. But that's not all that we can do. We can also show love by wearing masks, covering our coughs and sneezes, keeping our distance from other people at the grocery store, and washing our hands.
But if we trust that the vaccine can bring the pandemic to an end, does that mean we are not trusting God to protect us? The Bible is very clear that it is God who protects and sustains us and that nothing happens to us that is outside of God’s control. However, one way that God protects us is through things that humans have invented. There is a reason we place baby gates at the top of stairs, we wear seatbelts in the car, football players wear helmets, and the elderly use walkers: God uses these man-made inventions to protect us from harm. In the same way, God has given us the ability to understand how our body fights infections and helped us to invent a way for us to become immune to a disease before we actually get it. This is an amazing gift from God!
You might also be asked, "Are there reasons to not receive the vaccine?" The clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine did not include children under the age of 16 so children are currently unable to receive the vaccine. The trials also did not include pregnant or breastfeeding women so all women who fall into this category should seek medical advice prior to receiving the vaccine. As with other vaccines and medications, if someone has any allergies and particularly an allergy to an ingredient of the vaccine, the individual should have a conversation with their doctor about whether it is safe for them to receive the vaccine. As mentioned previously, for those individuals who are unable to or choose not to receive the vaccine, they can also show love by wearing masks, covering coughs and sneezes, keeping their distance from other people at the grocery store, and washing their hands.
So when you are asked, “What do you think about the Covid-19 vaccine?” here’s an example of what you can say. “Looking at the scientific facts, we still don’t have a cure to treat the virus, but God has given us a great blessing by enabling scientists to make a vaccine in record breaking time that has also been shown to be safe and effective. The vaccine is a great gift from God. As to whether or not we receive the vaccine, God has given us the ability to choose. As we make our decision, God has given us instructions in the Bible that we should choose to think of other people before ourselves. In fact, throughout the pandemic, God has given us a lot of opportunities to show our Christian love for others. Receiving the vaccine is certainly one of the wonderful ways we can think of other people. As with other vaccines, if you are unsure of receiving the vaccine due to a personal medical condition or allergy, you should discuss the benefits and risks with your provider prior to receiving the vaccine. Whether you choose to receive the vaccine or not, you can also show love to others by diligently wearing a mask, covering your cough, keeping your distance, and washing your hands.”
As nurses continue to be in the spotlight, I pray that God can continue to use us to demonstrate Christian love to those around us. May God continue to bless you and keep you safe.
Allison Spaude currently works in the Medical ICU of Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. and serves as the communications coordinator for the WELS Nurses Association.
The information in this article is based on the information available at the time of publication. As information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, please visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up-to-date information.
American Broadcasting Company. (2020, December 14). The Shot: Race for the Vaccine. (Season 1 Episode 232) [TV Series Episode]. In D. Sloan (Executive Producer), 20/20 Special Edition. American Broadcasting Company. Pfizer Inc & BioNTech SE. (2020, December 10).
Pfizer and BioNTech Announce Publication of Results from Landmark Phase 3 Trial of BNT162b2 COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate in The New England Journal of Medicine | Pfizer. Pfizer. https:// www.pfizer.com/news/press- release/press-release-detail/pfizer-and-biontech-announce-publication-results-landmark.