One of the most overwhelming conversations in the news today is about the COVID-19 vaccine. As students, this topic is even more relevant to us because we are surrounded by hundreds to thousands of people daily. The debate on whether the vaccine should be supported holds two common objections: the use of fetal cells and the potential side effects. Taking caution concerning the vaccine is reasonable, which is why careful research can be liberating for one’s personal opinion.
The first common objection is that the vaccine is developed from or contains material from abortions, but this is inaccurate. According to the North Dakota Health Institute, “Historical fetal cell lines were derived in the 1960s and 1970s from two elective abortions that were not performed for the purpose of vaccine development.”
Researchers were able to use these stem cell lines from both abortions. Neither abortion was done for the purpose of vaccines. The stem cell lines were only used after the development of ‘60s vaccines to determine efficacy, and vaccines today, including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations, do not contain any fetal cells.
The other common objection is that the vaccine may have harmful side effects. A study from the University of Alabama reports, “The most common reactions were injection site reactions (84.1%), fatigue (62.9%), headache (55.1%), muscle pain (38.3%), chills (31.9%), joint pain (23.6%) and fever (14.2%). These are short-lived and similar to what we see with the influenza or shingles vaccines. Severe reactions were very rare (< five percent).” This study has been backed up by many other medical resources, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Mayo Clinic. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had to be approved by the FDA and validated in multiple studies of thousands of patients.
We have a responsibility as Christians to do our research through the lens of the Bible. Ultimately, if taking the vaccine offends our conscience, we should not feel obligated to take it. But Paul encourages us in Romans 12:10 to be considerate of our fellow Christians first, so if we have a conviction against the vaccine, we should take other precautions by wearing masks and physical distancing.
As Christians, we are called to love and serve those around us. Our freedom to choose our own actions should not cause us to be inconsiderate of the needs of others, especially when influencing their protection from the virus. More than half a million people have died in the U.S. because of COVID-19. Carelessness over the illness will result in many needless deaths, not counting people who are suffering severe side effects from the virus.
We can choose whether to take the vaccine, but we shouldn’t be negligent in our duty to protect others and make considerate choices every day that put the wellbeing of others before our own comfort or convenience.