Next week, I will be getting my second Pfizer vaccination shot. Other than a sore arm for twenty-four hours (that proved to me something actually happened) I suffered no ill effects from the first shot.
I know there are people who are hesitating and even refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19, and that they have a variety of reasons for this. I also know that I come from a relative position of privilege – that I do not have reason to distrust government and have not lived with substandard health care.
Given that, I still think it is important to share the reasons why I am getting vaccinated.
- I trust the science. The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccinations because after clinical trials, they scientifically concluded that the vaccines are safe enough to be used for this emergency – a global pandemic that has upended our lives and taken the lives of far too many of our loved ones: FDA Pfizer Announcement; FDA Moderna Announcement. For me, the fact that there was a pause of the Johnson and Johnson vaccination reinforces my belief that government scientists are being transparent and as careful as possible with our health. FDA Johnson and Johnson Suspension of Paulse Announcement. I trust that the vaccine developers and reviewers have brought their very best for us in this crisis and it is our best hope of truly ending it. Indeed, to me the fact that we have these weapons in our arsenal to combat the disease is nothing short of miraculous.
- Beyond trusting the science, I trust my own experience and what I have heard from friends and family who have received the Covid vaccine. Only one of my friends and one family member felt fluish after the second vaccination shot – but this resolved relatively quickly. Even a precious cousin who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccination before the pause, and who has underlying health conditions, suffered no ill effects, for which I am grateful. All of us who reported sore arms also have a sense of euphoria about being granted “super powers” to protect us from the likelihood of ever having to be hospitalized because of the Covid-19 killer.
- Even more than protecting my own health, my desire to protect my multi-generational household motivates me to get vaccinated. My mother and my husband are both in a more vulnerable category. I would move heaven and earth to keep them safe. Of course, I also appreciate the freedom I am gaining to be able to visit with vaccinated family and friends, and to move around in the world with more confidence that I will not get infected or infect others.
- Also for me, getting vaccinated is the least I can do for our health care professionals who have put their own lives on the line, and who continue to work tirelessly to heal and save as many of us as possible during this pandemic.
- Finally, getting vaccinated is an article of faith for me. My friend, the Very Rev. Fran Gardner-Smith wrote a blog post for Tysons Interfaith entitled, “Love your Neighbor” Wear a Mask.” In it, she said: “I understand Jesus’ teaching to mean that every law in scripture and every word of encouragement from the prophet to live rightly may be summed up in the actions of loving God and loving our neighbors. …..when Jesus says we are to love our neighbor, he’s not simply talking about the person who lives next door to us. He’s talking about all the people we encounter, known and unknown.” I am getting vaccinated as an act of love for my neighbor, whether they are next door or on another continent.
I hope and pray that in the end, the vast majority of my neighbors will weigh all the facts and come to this same conclusion that I did – that getting vaccinated is safe, smart, and a civic duty. More than that, it is an act of love toward our fellow humans, and the only way to truly end the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are multiple instances in the Christian Gospels where Jesus is asked which commandment is the greatest. You can read these different accounts in Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, and Luke 10:25-28. Here is the story as Matthew tells it:
34When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
I understand Jesus’ teaching to mean that every law in scripture and every word of encouragement from the prophets to live rightly may be summed up in the actions of loving God and loving our neighbors.
This love that Jesus is talking about isn’t romantic love. The Greek word is agapé, and it means self-sacrificing love. It’s the love that asks us to put another’s needs above our own. And, when Jesus says we are to love our neighbor, he’s not simply talking about the person who lives next door to us. He’s talking about all the people we encounter, known and unknown.
I’ve been thinking about this teaching of Jesus’ as I’ve heard the debate about mask wearing in these days of COVID-19. I’ve heard people justify their refusal to wear a mask in a few different ways: wearing a mask in some way infringes on their personal freedom; they aren’t worried about catching COVID, so they won’t wear a mask; and/or the government doesn’t have the right to tell others what to do.
I believe that kind of thinking is completely counter to Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbor. My primary reason for wearing a mask is to protect other people, in case I have unknowingly caught COVID. For me, wearing a mask is one way I can live fully into Jesus commandment to love my neighbor. Whatever your faith tradition, I hope you’ll join me.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.