FAITH AND THE VACCINE
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March of 2020, mundane and daily activities have become what feel like moral choices of right and wrong for some. Should we have gotten together for the holidays? Is it okay to meet a couple people at the local pub for a drink? For some, mandates have made those choices. Others have blatantly decided that the mandates were not worth following. Others have struggled figuring out what do and understanding the expectations of staying safe during a pandemic.
Here in the United States, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has already begun. The federal government gave states guidelines for who to vaccinate first. Individual states are required to dole out their allotments. For some people fake news, misinformation, and general distrust of medical and government institutions have made navigating how to handle whether to receive the vaccine a struggle. For others, religious views have played a part in their decision to receive the vaccine or pass.
The Catholic Church encourages its followers to protect their communities while not accepting the actions that help create this magnificent scientific feat. On December 11, 2020, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement regarding the moral justification of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. This document lays out the Catholic church’s moral stance on the use of the vaccines that contain cells from abortions. It is common knowledge that the Catholic church deeply frowns upon abortion. All three of the approved vaccinations here in the states, according to the statement, contain cells traced back to abortions. It advises Catholics to circumvent the use of the AstraZeneca vaccination as it was created and processed by using more aborted cells than the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. However, it declares that being vaccinated is “an act of charity toward the other members of our community.” Other Christian faiths with strong pro-life ties have adopted the same stance: It is for the greater good that the vaccines are distributed and administered to people to prevent more harm from the corona virus.
People of Muslim and Jewish faiths may be concerned with whether or not the vaccine contains porcine derived ingredients. Many Muslims and Jews do not eat pork or anything containing ingredients that come from a pig. In Malaysia, “religious authorities have declared COVID-19 vaccines were permissible for Muslims, and mandatory for those the government has identified to receive them” according to a Reuters article updated on January 6, 2021. An article in The Swaddle on the same date reported on the state of Islamic concern over the corona virus. It quotes the Indonesian President Joko Widodo stating, “There shouldn’t be any concern about whether this vaccine is halal or not halal. We are in an emergency situation because of the COVID pandemic.” Halal means acceptable for consumption or use within Islam.
Ben Sales of the Sun Sentinel of South Florida reported in December 2020 that there has been push back about receiving the vaccine within some devout Jewish communities in Europe. Some Jewish communities still harbor a grand mistrust of the government and medical procedures due to the events of the Holocaust and World War II. There is no doubt that their mistrust is understandable and valid. The same article states that in the States, New York City has a seen similar push back from some Jewish communities. Specifically, the Jewish community in Brooklyn felt like it was only their gatherings being blamed for outbreaks of COVID-19, while other religious gatherings were being ignored as spreaders. However, both in the States and in Europe, religious authorities are working hard to establish trust and circulate information on the importance of the vaccination and diminishing the spread of COVID-19.
The vaccine has been registered by the Food and Drug Administration as safe for distribution and use in the United States. Christian, Jewish and Muslims leaders have all agreed that in the light of the deadly and devasting pandemic we need to be focusing on the greater good and protecting others by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
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