As we watch the progress of national programs intended to address vaccine hesitancy, we are encouraged to hear from writers and readers about positive strategies for entering into discussions with friends and family about vaccine concerns. Through listening and respectful conversation, we can help our loved ones weigh the costs and benefits of the coronavirus vaccine and, hopefully, find a path toward vaccine confidence. This piece from Alexis Grant, PhD candidate in Health Sciences, offers a beautiful perspective on the way our Christian faith can inform our choices and encourage those around us as we fight this global pandemic. We hope that you feel empowered to share these ideas with those around you who might be experiencing vaccine hesitancy.
— The staff at The Well
As a public health professional who has been working on a Covid-19 response project over the past year, I am regularly sharing information about the Covid-19 vaccines — what we know, where to get them, and all of the latest developments. Now months into mass vaccination efforts, I see more and more of my friends and family getting their vaccines. In this article, I am writing with an assumption that you believe the vaccine is effective and does more good than harm, both for the individuals who get it as well as for the entire world as we work to end the pandemic. My goal with this piece isn’t to convince you that the vaccine is worth getting, but to encourage you to make it a priority and urge others to get one too.
First, as Christians, we must prioritize vaccination in order to love our neighbors better. Vaccination prevents the spread of Covid-19, protecting both you and your neighbor. Just as with wearing masks, the vaccine protects both you and those around you, especially those who are not vaccinated for whatever reason (whether it be by choice or medical reasons). Prioritizing vaccination will allow each of us to be in community again, and with less hesitation and worry. We can now go back to loving our neighbor in ways that have been restricted over the past year and a half — we can hug, we can share meals, we can pray while being physically present with one another without anxiety over potential infection. The effectiveness of vaccination can give us peace of mind to do things like going to church, singing, giving rides, running errands together, getting lunch, and other forms of fellowship that we have not been engaging in over the past year. I have been vaccinated, and I am now able to see friends and loved ones without either of us feeling worry, and without the need to eat outside or wear masks.* After more than a year of restrictions around social interactions with my neighbors, colleagues, friends, and family, I am ready to embrace others with joyful, Christian love. .
Hebrews 10:24 tells us to consider how we may spur each other on toward love and good deeds — and I believe we must spur each other in every domain of our lives, including our health. So as believers, let us encourage those we fellowship with to also get vaccinated. Talk with one another about getting vaccinated and hear the joys and concerns around this topic. You could even think about these conversations like sharing your walk with Jesus. We can tell stories about our own experience or things we have heard from others — but that will still differ from an individual’s own experience in getting the vaccine or the concerns they have. And people close to us will listen based on trust and a relationship you have built; you do not have to be an expert to share information. But the reason we tell this story, our own story, is to encourage others to do the same. Encouraging others to get their vaccine is the responsible, loving thing to do — a way to love our neighbors in every way we can and share that good news with others.
*Find the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for fully vaccinated people at the CDC site.