When COVID-19 first arrived in late 2019, it was barely a blink in anyone’s eye. Over months, the virus spread globally until the world had to shut down. Businesses boarded up, employees transitioned to work from home, schools turned to virtual learning experiences. Lives have been permanently changed as over 600,000 individuals in the U.S. have lost their lives to a virus. After nine months of the scientific community shifting to focus almost all research on the deadly virus, companies were able to to develop vaccines that were approved for emergency use. Doctors thought the answers to their problems had arrived.
But another nine months have passed and the numbers are still increasing. New variants have emerged and families are continuing to lose loved ones — all because people refuse to get the vaccine. Currently, around 90 million people who are eligible for the vaccine have refused to get it. Christians, in particular, lead the numbers in refusing to get vaccinated, with reports showing that 36% of all Protestants stated that they would not get the vaccine.
The reasons for refusing the vaccine range from concerns about how safe the vaccine is—especially when it comes to long-term effects (though scientists have addressed this endlessly)—to legitimate health reasons as to why they cannot receive the vaccine. The CDC’s guidance has been confusing since it changes as the virus is further researched. And America has a muddled history when it comes to marginalized communities being part of medical studies.
The vaccine has also been seen as a political issue. Getting the vaccine can be seen as aligning with the Democratic party, leaving many Republicans nervous to get the vaccine. Christians, in particular, have gone the religious route and claimed that receiving the vaccine is a lack of faith and everyone just needs to trust God to be healed.
And still others rely on unfounded and dangerous reasonings. Despite no evidence to this claim, many refuse the vaccine because they believe they would be microchipped by the government. People have had concerns the vaccine is actually how COVID-19 is transmitted. Some believers even claimed the vaccine is the mark of the beast.
Despite the online theories spreading around, the vaccine is actually not the enemy. In fact, there are actually many reasons why Christians should be first in line to receive the vaccine.
An Answered Prayer
For many believers and doctors, the vaccine is part of an answered prayer.
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, sees vaccines as a gift from God. “If God gave us the gift of being able to understand viruses and the immune system, and be able to use that information to develop something that’s going to save hundreds of thousands of lives, doesn’t that seem like something that God has provided for us as a way of protecting us?”
Collins, a respected physicist-geneticist and Christian, has spent the last few years working with specialists to develop a safe and available COVID-19 vaccine. When vaccines became available last December, he felt as if he could finally take a deep breath.
“It seemed like this was something everybody would run to embrace,” Collins said. “Yet, obviously, it’s been a little more complicated than that.”
Many well-believing Christians have prayed for an answer and end to the pandemic. But while many Christians are waiting for a specific way for God to move in this pandemic, Collins believes has already given His answer.
“It seems to me that when God does answer prayer, it is often through the works of other of God’s children, and in this case, I think one can make a very good argument that the successful vaccines are part of the answer to that prayer.”
Collins has worked and spoken with faith leaders throughout the pandemic to address Christians’ concerns about the safety and importance of the vaccine. In one instance, he spoke with Franklin Graham about the parable of the Good Samaritan. In their discussion, they pointed to the idea that the Good Samaritan used “medicine of the time” in the form of torn cloths for bandages and oil to wounds.