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Faith, hope, love and the vaccine

Faith, hope, love and the vaccine

COVID-19 Missions and Outreach

A medical staff person acknowledges that she will not take the vaccine, because of her understanding of the Book of Revelation. She has chosen to ignore the robust studies of thousands of volunteers revealing that 94 out of 100 recipients who received the vaccines are protected from contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus and 100% are prevented from developing a serious disease.

Bishop Kenneth Carter

Although longer duration studies will be needed, to date there have been no serious side effects other than rare hypersensitivity reactions within minutes of receiving the vaccine.

The two vaccines recently approved for emergency use by the FDA are highly effective and safe. Our tradition teaches us to read Scripture alongside our human reason, and to see the perseverance, sacrifices and gifts of scientific innovation as a gift of our Creator.

The infrastructure and skills required to develop a vaccine within 9 months are unprecedented and many regards this remarkable accomplishment as a scientific miracle.

Our faith should help us to overcome our fears and accept this lifesaving gift.

We have now witnessed the deaths of over three hundred thousand persons in the United States from COVID-19. In the midst of suffering, grief and lament, there is also confusion. As a physician-scientist and a minister-Bishop, we have also witnessed suffering and death firsthand.

Our hope is in the orderly process of the distribution of the vaccine, and we plan to take the vaccine as soon as it is offered to us.

In fact, one of us (F.S.) has already received his first injection.

This hope overcomes exhaustion. We see the light at the end of the tunnel and can envision a world where everyone is immune to the ravages of this deadly virus and where we can once again gather physically for worship without endangering ourselves and our loved ones. 

Dr. Frederick Southwick

Our encouragement to now take the vaccine is consistent with our guidance over the past nine months to wear masks, physically distance and avoid large gatherings.

At a fundamental level, this is about how we express love for our neighbor, a commandment deeply rooted in Jewish and Christian faith traditions, and a practice that motivates persons of goodwill.

The vaccine and its gradual effect on our society will enable us to reassemble in families, workplaces, communities and congregations.

We know for this to be possible at least 60-70% of the population will need to be vaccinated in order to generate herd immunity.

Just as the virus spread incrementally, the healing of our state and nation will be accelerated or delayed, based on our participation, one person, one family, one community at a time. This love can overcome our own personal preferences to go our own way and ignore the recommendations of scientists.

How will we receive the gift of the vaccine? We believe all that went into the historic development of the vaccine, whose timing is miraculous, is nothing short of a gift to us, a gift for our healing. The gifts of faith, hope and love open us to the receptivity of these gifts. Religious communities have an opportunity and a responsibility to lead in behaviors that promise to heal our communities.

Dr. Frederick Southwick is a professor of Medicine and a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of Florida. Rev. Kenneth Carter is Bishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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