Will I Accept Vaccination?

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As I sit down to write, word came that the FDA had authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This followed authorization of the vaccine in the U.K. this past week. There is a great deal of controversy about the vaccines, some from those who oppose all vaccines, and others with concerns about the vaccines for COVID.

I do not want to argue about this. I don’t have the time, and your argument really isn’t with me but the scientific experts and public health people who know more about this stuff than either of us. I simply am going to share my own thinking and decision. In short, when my turn comes, which likely won’t be for several months yet, I will accept vaccination.

Here’s how I think about it. While there is a very small risk of side effects with any vaccine, the risk of death at my age with COVID is significantly greater. I have not been infected and so am susceptible. I am not afraid of death as a Christian who believes that when death comes I will rest in peace with the Lord and rise in glory at the resurrection. But I treasure the gift of embodied life and here, as in other matters of self-care, I choose to care for the body with which I have been entrusted.

I have been vaccinated throughout my life without ill effect. I was born about the time the first polio vaccine was approved. I have friends a few years older suffering the lifelong effects of polio. I’ve not had concerns about tetanus (a gruesome way to die) or diptheria or pertussis because of vaccines. I had measles, mumps, rubella as a child. I’m glad my son didn’t. I harbor the chicken pox virus in my body because that vaccine wasn’t around when I was a child. I’ve had the shingles vaccine to prevent the adult version of this childhood disease. I’ve had yearly flu vaccines and pneumonia vaccines. I think I’ve had the flu only twice in my adult life. I do realize some people have allergies that may rule out vaccines and they should discuss this with their health care provider.

Beyond my own health is the wider health of our society. That society begins with my wife who has the same risk factors and is a cancer survivor. Vaccines work by interrupting the chain of infection. COVID must find an organic host or die. I think we have had enough COVID. Enough (and more than enough) have gotten very sick or died including dear friends. I don’t want to be the cause of sickness and death in another. I want COVID to run out of hosts and die, or at least be severely suppressed. That can only happen if most of us get the vaccine. I suspect we always will need to be watchful, but vaccines, when used widely, have eradicated some diseases. I’m glad to do my part. We don’t need more years like 2020 with its losses of lives and livelihoods and all the other impacts on our society.

I’ve read all the claims about dangers or conspiracies (so don’t post them or send them to me). I’m not convinced. What does convince me is the process. I have friends who have been in trials, and all spoke about the informed consent, the monitoring, and deliberate care. Some of these friends are scientists who recognize when corners are being cut. None were. No, the vaccine doesn’t change my genetic code. No Bill Gates is not inserting microchips in all of us. The animus against Bill Gates puzzles me when he and Melinda Gates have done so much with their money to save lives, with nothing to personally gain except the satisfaction of doing it. Yes, he was pretty cut-throat in building Microsoft. But maybe his life suggests the hope of redemption. Personally, I don’t have any time for the Gates-bashing crowd–I’m just challenged by his example of generosity which makes me ask myself how generously and generatively I live. But I digress.

I hope vaccination will not be a political football in the U.S. The current occupant of the White House lent his endorsement to the effort to develop the vaccine in record time. The presumptive president-elect has signaled a target of 100 million vaccinated in 100 days. Former presidents of both parties have said they will be vaccinated on screen. I don’t see being vaccinated as a litmus test of political loyalty any more than any other vaccine I’ve ever received.

I’m most glad that our front line health care people have first access to the vaccine. I want those who have not already gotten sick to be spared. I also hope we cooperate when it is our turn, so they will not have to keep seeing the horrors of these past months of watching people say good bye to loved ones on a I-pad, of being the only one with someone as they take their last breaths. Yes, this is part of medicine, but not in the heart-breaking numbers they are seeing right now.

I decided to write about this because I sense many who read me have at least some regard for some of the things I say. If you differ, it does not change my regard for you. If you think I’m out to lunch or deceived, pray that I might see the light–but don’t argue or send me articles. I’ve likely seen them or ones like them. I just wanted you to know how I’ve been thinking about this decision and what I’ve decided. I look forward to the day when this is in the rear view mirror, when we can make up for all the celebrations we’ve missed. I hope we can be there together or enjoy each other’s pictures on Facebook. Stay safe my friend.

[I am serious about not wanting to argue about this. I consider it a waste of time and energy. And I will take down posts that try to do this.]

19 thoughts on “Will I Accept Vaccination?

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful exegesis. It is puzzling to me that many who say they are Christians refuse to follow social distancing and to wear masks. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  2. Well stated, Bob. My hubby and I will receive the vaccine. I can remember standing in line at Chaney High School as a child to receive the oral polio vaccine. Then also in 1976 for the swine flu. My hope is that a similar availability will prevail for the covid vaccine.

  3. Your viewpoint is identical to mine; confirmation is always good. I am, however, equally puzzled by those who stop at stop-signs and red-lights, who drive on the right side of the road, yield the right of way when requested, but claim that wearing a mask to slow the spread of Covid-19 is a violation of their right to free expression of their behavior.

  4. Amen! You & I are about the same age and I can to the same conclusion via the same thought process. Not intending to bash anyone but whenever I think of the anti-vaxers (as germain to historically well-established vaccines) it seems to me that they’re depending on others for herd immunity and I think of them as selfish. Now these new Covid-19 vaccines are NOT well established so that’s another matter. For the reasons you stated, I’d get vaccinated…but I can respect thoses that want to wait.

  5. Bob I’m right there with you. We must be around the same age because I have lived through all the vaccinations you mentioned. I will gratefully and gladly line up to get that vaccine as soon as it is offered to me. My mother, who is 96 and in a nursing home, will likely get it before me and for that I am thankful. I appreciate your candor. Thanks for your thoughtful post.

  6. As a former executive in intellectual property in the Rx industry I understand your insights and appreciate your clear expression of how you have formed your decision.
    Just one thought. The CEO of Pfizer made it clear: no development money for the vaccine came from the government. Had the vaccine failed the stockholders would have had to deal with the expense of capital with nothing in return.
    Because the vaccine passed the trials then a sale contract with the federal government proceeds.
    Just wanted to clarify this.

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