Religious leaders should step up on vaccinations

"[S]everal outbreaks over the past few years have begun in religious communities with poor vaccination rates. The current measles outbreak in New York, for example, has been linked to vaccine refusal among ultra-Orthodox Jewish families in Rockland County. Prior to that, an unvaccinated Ohio Amish community saw a massive measles outbreak in 2014. In 2013, a smaller outbreak was traced back to an evangelical megachurch in North Texas." - Washington Post

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Bert Perry's picture

If, per another thread, pastors are hesitant to address things that their congregants are likely not doing--things like homosexual sex and such--good luck getting them to address things like "refusing vaccinations" that many in their congregation are doing.  For that matter, it's not child's play to make a Biblical case for vaccination; you're really arguing that your love for others ought to drive you to accept the risks of vaccination, and unfortunately, a lot of the pro-vaccination literature I've seen does not explain that well.  You get a lot of "you're less likely to get the disease", not so much of "if you're less likely to pass it on, the epidemic is likely to end."

I'm for most vaccinations--I have my reservations on how Gardasil is being promoted as one objection--but I would argue that religious and medical authorities alike need to seriously up their game in terms of how they explain these matters.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jeff Howell's picture

maybe. But, in this instance, advocating for immunizations will become more challenging going forward. The scenarios are getting more complex as the government intervention grows. Do I obey civil magistrates vs. do I exercise and practice individual soul liberty/civil disobedience? Loving my closer neighbor (i.e. their own children in some parents minds) by protecting from possible harmful side effects vs. loving my societal neighbors and thereby risking my own child. Another concern for the community of faith will be how certain lines are developed, and whether or not fetal tissue research or abortion tissue research is a part of the line. Obviously, this would depend on the immunization. This will be a matter of great concern and conscience. We immunized. I think it is wise and beneficial, overall. One further thought: grief counseling and ministry for churches will expand exponentially in the next decade and beyond as the non-immunization movement grows. Pastors will find it very challenging to balance care and compassion while at the same time helping parents work through thoughts of guilt stemming from the inevitable "... if only's." Childhood diseases are no respecters of believers' children.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

I'm for most vaccinations--I have my reservations on how Gardasil is being promoted as one objection--but I would argue that religious and medical authorities alike need to seriously up their game in terms of how they explain these matters.

Very interesting.  I had both my children get all their vaccinations (mostly in the 90's except for boosters) *except* Gardasil.  The way that one was explained, it was like thanks, but no.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

...at first was that the FDA and CDC had added it to the recommended list so quickly, I was going to wait for a few years before seriously considering it--they were recommending a vaccination with demonstrated 5 year efficacy at an age about 5 years before the average kid was having sex.  It was the medical equivalent of putting on your snow tires in June, IMO.

Now that the guinea pigs have demonstrated safety, and quite frankly after the efficacy of the vaccine has gone from something like 70% to 90% of HPV variants, and now that my oldest child is 20, I'm explaining the pluses and minuses of the vaccine to my children (at least once with a nurse present) and letting them make the decision.  The logic I share is that while I'm confident in their purity, I also am hopeful that our church will be reaching people for Christ who (at least prior to coming to Christ) did not have that benefit.  Hence there is some likelihood that they will benefit.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.