Vaccine Reluctance

As much as we would like to join Gov. Baker’s optimism about the pandemic and open our church to in-person worship, we have decided that it remains too early to safely do so.

The vaccine is the key to such a reopening and it is certainly becoming more accessible. Until inoculations are widespread, however, we want to continue doing our part to control this deadly disease.

One of the current struggles with widespread vaccinations is people’s reluctance to get the vaccine. Nearly 30% of Americans say that they “probably” or “definitely” will not get the vaccine. Why?

People fear that none of the vaccines have been safely vetted. They are also concerned about side effects or actually contracting the virus by way of the vaccine (which is not actually possible). Others fear that the vaccines were developed under political pressure and that they are simply too new; they’d rather wait and see how vaccinated people fair in the long run.

Black people are statistically the most reluctant to get the vaccine. In surveys, about half of this demographic do not trust vaccines in general and this one in particular. For context, this is understandable given the black community’s history with government sponsored medicine.  For black communities, the memory of the 1932 Tuskegee Experiment—a study of the effects of syphilis performed mostly on poor, illiterate sharecroppers and run by the US Public Health Service—continues to cause outrage and distrust in public health efforts after it became known that researchers knew that penicillin effectively treated the disease, withheld that information, and followed the men for forty years. There are other examples of poor, manipulative or non-existent treatment of black people by the medical establishment.

Surprisingly, some of the reluctance to get the vaccine is coming from religious circles. The Arch Diocese of New Orleans has instructed Catholics there to not get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because it is “morally compromised.” That is, it was partly developed using stem cells obtained after abortions in the early 1970s.

Then, of course, there are those who believe that Covid 19 is a government hoax to begin with and that the vaccine will allow the federal government to track one’s movements in new ways.        

In all honesty, I am shocked that vaccine reluctance is so widespread. Vaccines of all types save lives and this is especially the case with Covid 19. We will never get ahead of this pandemic and return to a more normal social, economic and religious life unless and until the vast majority of people become vaccinated.

So, when you’re eligible–get the shot!

In Christ,

–Rev. Dominic