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Vaccination

The following two articles are intended to be read together. The first deals with the scriptural principles about vaccination and the second is a medical opinion from a brother who is also a medical doctor.
By BRO. DAVE JENNINGS & BRO. ANTONIO R. HOWELL, M.D.
Read Time: 8 minutes

Article 1: Vaccination and Obedience to the Truth

by Brother Dave Jennings

As the world now completes more than a half-year under the Covid-19 pandemic, there is news that several vaccines may be available to the public in the coming months. This is a highly politicized topic across our continent and a few “conspiracy theories” have been communicated. It is also clear that within our own community there appears to be a diversity of opinion about whether to be vaccinated.

within our own community there appears to be a diversity of opinion about whether to be vaccinated.

As you might appreciate, this is not the first pandemic and it is certainly not the first time the population of the world has sought vaccination from a deadly disease. In my own memory from the 1950’s, polio was devastating our continent and children (some in the Truth) were crippled and even died from the virus.

Smallpox was once a similarly deadly disease. I remember the lines of people in my community that queued up, with little ones in tow, to be vaccinated. Many of us over the age of 50 have a tiny scar on our arms where we were vaccinated for smallpox. So, vaccinations for deadly disease is nothing new.  Prior generations examined the Scriptures to determine if there was a Divine principle to be applied.

It is critically important to say that if vaccination remains non-compulsory, this is a matter of personal conscience. Vaccination is not a principle that is dealt with in Scripture.

During the 1871 Vaccination Act in the UK, vaccination for smallpox was required by law. Some brethren wondered if this was an example of where a stand for the Truth should be taken? Here’s what Robert Roberts wrote in the Christadelphian Magazine in 1873 on this matter, after the law for vaccination was imposed:

Vaccination is not a principle that is dealt with in Scripture. 

“Becoming a Christadelphian means believing and obeying the gospel, and accepting all the obligations which the law of Christ imposes on his brethren. Without this, a man cannot be saved. But Christ has commanded nothing on the subject of vaccination. Our duty in the matter depends upon the bearing of those precepts by which he has commanded us to submit to “every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13), and to “obey magistrates” (Titus 3:1), where these do not require us to disobey him.
“Out of this comes the conclusion that it is our duty to submit to vaccination because magistrates require it, but this conclusion would, of course, be deprived of its force, if it could be shown that vaccination was opposed to what God requires; but this cannot be shown.
“The arguments that show it are far-fetched and inconclusive. The question being one of doubtful disputation, is one on which no one must judge or dictate to another. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, and act accordingly, and leave the Lord to decide.
“To call it a sin on one side or other, is a mistake; for this is to contend that those who practice on the other side are sinners. Sin is the transgression of the law; and a matter on which no express law has been given must be left to the uncondemned judgment of each for himself.” ¹

Bro. Michael Ashton, the then Editor of the Christadelphian, responded to a letter to the Editor on vaccinations in 1990:

“Let it be said at the outset that there are no injunctions in the scriptures relating to vaccination. It was not practiced in Biblical times, and thus finds no place in the commands given for the regulation of society in those days. As with so many aspects that arise in our complex and technological world, we are forced to consider basic scriptural principles that have a bearing on the matter.
“There are probably three that are of assistance on this particular question. Firstly, no-one can read the careful and detailed provisions of the Law and not realize that the Lord God is concerned that His creation should take reasonable and sensible precautions both to prevent it suffering from, and from spreading, disease.
“The hygienic arrangements described in the Law were vastly in advance of the general understanding of society at the time when it was revealed. Only within the last 150 years have some of the reasons for the details imposed upon the Jewish people been understood.
“Secondly, the commands of God expect us to be considerate for others, not only when we find it convenient to do so, but also when we might be inconvenienced by the action that is necessary (James 2:8). In the case of vaccination, there are two objectives: to guard against the subject himself suffering from the disease, and to help prevent it spreading widely to those who may be less able to withstand its effects.
“The application of these principles would undoubtedly lead to a decision wholly in favor of submitting to vaccination, and the question would be easily answered. But there are other aspects to be taken into account.
“As the material used for vaccinations can contain a small portion of the disease organism from which protection is sought—indeed this is one of the basic reasons underlying the practice of vaccination as we understand it—many have felt that the principles set out above are not so easily applied.
“If God requires us to keep clear of disease, how are we doing so when we deliberately inject ourselves with one? Perhaps the vaccine is manufactured from doubtful material, giving rise to great unease in anyone submitting to it.
“Furthermore, all vaccinations have a very small percentage of failure. For so many tens of thousands vaccinated, one will be damaged: possibly he will die from it. To the medical profession this can be balanced against the lives protected by controlling a disease which, if allowed to grow rampant, will undoubtedly kill many, many more.

We must not judge others for taking a position that is different than ours.

“But although these statistics may appear convincing when expressed impersonally, they are of no comfort to parents whose child proves to be the one in a hundred thousand who is affected. It is therefore impossible to be dogmatic on this question. Instead, after careful consideration of all the factors, “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” and act in accordance with his spiritually directed conscience (Romans 14:5).”²

Therefore, everyone must decide for themselves whether to be vaccinated if it is not mandated where they live. If it does become mandated, the Divine principle appears to be that we ought to submit to the authorities. We must not judge others for taking a position that is different than ours.

However, there are likely consequences one must face if one chooses not to be vaccinated. These may include a lack of access to the worksite, schools and other public venues. Our decision to be vaccinated also involves our brothers and sisters, who we hope to return to meeting with soon. Let every one of us weigh this matter carefully in our own minds and pray to our Heavenly Father that we will be spared further impact from this deadly disease.

¹ Signs of the Times, The Christadelphian, Volume 9, 1872, pg. 281

² Israel in Their Land, The Christadelphian, Volume 127, 1990, pg. 127

 

Article 2: Vaccines: From the Perspective of a Brother and Medical Doctor

by Brother Antonio R. Howell, M.D.

Faith and science are not mutually exclusive. Belief in science does not mean you cannot worship and believe in God. I know many scientists and physicians who share our faith. Because we are all God’s creation, our bodily functions or physiology are also His creation.

The same God who created every living thing on this earth also provides mankind with the intelligence and the resources to make vaccines. A vaccine uses our own physiology to fight disease. Vaccines are tools, like antibiotics and medicines, that protect against disease, suffering, and death.

Faith and science are not mutually exclusive.

Many things which appear to be new in the world are not. Did you know that the first coronavirus was isolated in the 1960s? The HCoV-229E (or B814) strain was isolated in the winter of 1961. This virus was isolated by the CCRU from a group of boys (aged 12-17) living in a boarding school. The boys were believed to be suffering from the common cold.

This event was published by the CCRU in the British Medical Journal under the title “Virus Isolations from Common Colds Occurring in a Residential School” in July 1962. ¹  The CCU, or CCRU, was a unit of the British Medical Research Council which did research on the common cold until 1989.

Did you also know more than one type of coronavirus exists? Since the 1960s, six other strains of the coronavirus have been isolated (HCoV-NL63, HCoVOC43, HCoV-HKU1, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV) and the latest one (SARS-CoV-2) in December 2019. The last identified strain of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 caused coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. This brings the total strains of coronaviruses to seven.

Vaccines are a tool of the physician just like a pen is a tool of an author.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus, which should not be confused with the rhinovirus that causes the common cold. Neither one of these is the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19.  There exist at least 200 different viruses that cause symptoms of a cold. These are all distinct virus types that can cause the sneezing, cough, scratchy throat and runny nose that we identify as a cold.

But what is a vaccine? Vaccines are a tool of the physician just like a pen is a tool of an author. There is nothing inherently evil about a vaccine. Just like there is nothing inherently evil in a steak knife. Both can serve to do good and if misused can cause harm.

Can you prevent cancer with a vaccine? Today the HPV vaccine exists to prevent cervical cancer. In the 1960s when the first coronavirus was discovered, cancer was a scourge on humanity. In 1972 in the US, oncology was established as a medical specialty to treat cancer patients.

The COVID-19 vaccine is merely other tool at the disposal of doctors.

The cancer specialist called themselves Oncologists because of the negative connotation associated with the word cancer. That is how bad the C-word was back then. What a wonderful tool the Lord has provided in the HPV vaccine for humanity to use. Cervical cancer can be transmitted without having sex. HPV is mainly transmitted from person-to-person contact. Even, if sex outside of marriage completely disappeared, women and little girls would still be stricken with cervical cancer. Nevertheless, the HPV vaccine could still prevent these cases. ² ³

Should you take the COVID-19 vaccine when available? Well that is totally up to you. I know I will and so will my family. The COVID-19 vaccine is merely other tool at the disposal of doctors. We all depend on tools to perform work. The vaccine is a tool for doctors, which has clinically proven data behind it that demonstrates efficacy against a disease.

 

¹ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1925312/pdf/brmedj02979-0032.pdf

² Eric J Ryndock & Craig Meyers (2014) A risk for non-sexual transmission of human

papillomavirus? Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy, 12:10, 1165-1170.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25199987/

³ Sabeena, S., Bhat, P., Kamath, V., and Arunkumar, G. (2017) Possible non‐sexual modes

of transmission of human papilloma virus. J. Obstet. Gynaecol. Res., 43: 429– 435.

https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jog.13248

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