Let me preface this by saying to all readers, this is an intensely personal decision for each person to make. It is also a topic that seems really controversial in my region of the United States. I have been thinking deeply about this and have struggled.
How do I decide about getting a COVID vaccination?
Each person will have an important decision to make about getting a COVID 19 vaccination. Recently I attended a zoom meeting with Dr. Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention as he interviewed Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health related to vaccination. Dr. Collins is a brilliant physician and scientist and a devout follower of Jesus Christ. Dr. Collins served the NIH at the request of President Obama originally and then again at the request of President Trump in 2016. You can watch the interview in its entirety here.
Three of Dr. Collins’ answers to commonly asked questions related to the COVID vaccination might help us as we make decisions.
1. Is the vaccine safe and effective?
The short answer, according to Dr. Collins and the scientific data is “Yes.” The efficacy rate of several of the vaccines is between 94-95%. While many conspiracy theories abound related to safety, Dr. Collins suggests the data points to a very safe vaccine based on years of research and not just a few months of work. He admits no vaccine or medical procedure of any kind is without risk. Each person must consider benefits and risks personally. As for Dr. Collins, he counsels the benefits are profound and the risks are miniscule.
2. Does the vaccine utilize aborted fetal tissue?
For a person like me who is very pro-life, this is an important issue. Dr. Collins conveyed research for the vaccine relies on a cell line derived in 1972 called HEK293. Many of our modern advancements in medicine and vaccination development depend on research associated with this line of cells. This is a cell line developed from one aborted fetus in the Netherlands in 1972. The reason for the abortion is unkown. There is no use of current fetal tissue in the vaccine. While the research involved HEK293, the cell line is not used in production of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. He said nothing of the other vaccines.
For many this creates a moral dilemma. What is the most pro-life decision? Should we refuse the vaccine because its foundational research involved HEK293 or receive immunization knowing that, according to Dr. Collins, many lives will be saved if most people are vaccinated. This question is important for each person to answer.
3. Wouldn’t it be better to just wait on “herd immunity” to take effect?
At least at the local level, this is a position held by many. Dr. Collins suggests that approach would eventually work. It would take time and unfortunately we would lose millions of lives along the way. Perhaps this approach costs too high of a price and is the least pro-life solution.
Are you getting vaccinated Pastor Brian?
These are intensely personal decisions each person must make based on understanding of the data, God’s Word, and the direction of the Holy Spirit. My counsel is to avoid making decisions related to immunization based on just a feeling, politics, or conspiracy theories. As you research this issue for yourself, I would encourage you to verify and look at the source of articles and videos you may come across to ensure the information is accurate.
After much consideration, I will choose to get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for a couple of reasons. My personal wrestle with the vaccine dilemma leads me to the conclusion being vaccinated with an injection not including HEK293 in production when available is the best, pro-life decision I can make. I think it is the most loving thing I can do at this juncture for my family, my friends and neighbors, and my community. I also know vaccination will likely be required for international travel which thus far has been an important part of the ministry God entrusts to me.
You may disagree with me. I know that not everyone will agree with me. I can understand the struggle and conflict. I encourage you to learn as much as you can from reputable sources, seek God through the reading of His Word and prayer, and think deeply.
I love you each. I am praying for you and your family.