The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has completely disrupted our lives and devastated many families all over the world. All of us would know of a relative, friend, neighbor or an old acquaintance lost to this virus, causing much anguish and loss. While it seems as if there is no answer to these problems, there is One, who has all the answers and has provided us with a Ray of Hope, the COVID vaccine.
There are several vaccines developed against the virus using different technologies. All the vaccines that have been approved are safe and efficacious, and provide a protection in the range of 70‐95%. However, there have been a lot of myths regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. This has led to vaccine hesitancy, which is one of the causes of mortality in this pandemic. One needs to be reassured, that all vaccines go through a rigorous process of clinical trials before they are approved for use in the general population. As of now, India has approved Covishield (Serum Institute India), Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) and Sputnik (Dr Reddy’s Lab). Vaccines contain protein material from the virus. None of them carry the live virus, hence one cannot get COVID-19 by taking the vaccine. The few people who reported positive after vaccines, either were in the incubation period when they took the vaccines, or they got infected at the vaccination site from someone, as a result of not following the COVID appropriate behaviour. Mild allergies are not a reason for avoiding the vaccine. Do discuss with your doctor and consider protecting yourself with the jab.
Vaccine Hesitancy and Ethical Dilemmas:
Vaccines are now available to all those above 45yrs. It has also opened up to those above 18 in a phased manner and very soon will be available to all those above the age of 18 years. Unfortunately there is a lot of hesitancy and doubt in the minds of some people with regards to the vaccine.
i) Some people are hesitant because of misinformation being spread regarding fears of safety and effectiveness. Some fake messages claimed that all those who take the vaccines will die in two years which is completely false and baseless.
ii) Some people think scientifically, that it is better to get a natural immunity from the infection. This again is wrong as the vaccine gives you immunity without exposing you to the risk of the disease and death due to a natural infection.
iii) And then, there are people who will not take the vaccine because they are unsure of the ethical issues involved.
The Church’s Perspective (Ethical Issues)
The Church encourages all the people to go ahead and take the vaccine. During this pandemic several Covid Care teams were formed in various parishes to help serve those diagnosed with COVID and also ensure that the parishioners get their tests done and take the vaccine as early as possible. Some vaccines, at the time of their initial development, had their origin in aborted fetal cells/embryonic tissue. It is very clear that these fetal cells or embryonic tissues were not aborted or killed for preparing the vaccine. They had no influence on the decision of the vaccines to be made or tested. And in no way, this encourages abortion.
We are morally obliged to take the vaccine, to ensure safety of our God given lives, and of those around us. As Thomas Aquinas said, we have to know the (scientific ) reality , and we have to know the Church’s teachings.
Finally we need to pray to make the right choice, to protect ourselves and those around us.
So go out , and take the jab, when it’s your turn, it’s the best Ray of Hope during these dark moments. As the number of cases in the second wave drop, let us not be complacent. Remember, we should continue to strictly follow the COVID appropriate behaviour even after taking the vaccine.
– Dr. Prisca Dias