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Think about others rather than getting the needle

With vaccinations providing a way to help end the Covid-19 pandemic, Rev Andy Bryant addresses those who are not so sure about having the jab and asks them to consider other people as well as themselves.

I am not sure I should even be writing about this.  I do not want to give them any more attention than they have already won for themselves.  The truth is that the anti-vax brigade is a small (and shrinking) number despite the noise they make.  Overwhelmingly most people are taking up the opportunity to be vaccinated against covid and truly thank God, it is already making a difference.
But amidst the mythology they peddle there are temptations to which we all succumb.  So before we sit in judgement, we all need to beware.
Beyond those who really just do not like needles (and there are schemes to help people overcome this), the first group of reasons for resisting vaccination imply, in different ways, that it is not to be trusted.  This thinking ranges from “it has been developed too quickly” to “what are they really injecting into us?”  At best this suggests that those promoting the vaccine are misguided, and at its worse it implies some underlying nefarious plot.  It assumes the worst of those who claim to be helping.
This is a profoundly unchristian attitude.  God encourages us to see the best in people even as we pray that God, and others, will see the best in us. The individuals involved in researching vaccines dedicate their lives to seeking to help people, to use their knowledge to eradicate life-threatening diseases.  The speed with which the vaccines have been developed is, in part, down to their perseverance and determination, their skills developed over many years.
In a highly litigious age all pharmaceutical companies are extremely risk averse.  They have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, if they bring a product to market too soon.  Whilst blind trust in professionals can be dangerous, to be suspicious of people precisely because they are professional is blind folly. 
The scientific community does not act as one uniform whole.  All research is checked (peer reviewed) by other scientists who, in turn, research the research, monitor the progress of the roll out, test and re-test the results. Numerous different reports are now showing the effectiveness of the vaccines.  Safety is the watchword at every stage.
Then there are those who wave the flag of faith.  These arguments range from the pandemic being a punishment from God through to the assumption that science and faith are at loggerheads. It is certainly true that the origins of the pandemic may well lie in our abuse of the natural order and we are facing the consequences for our poor stewardship of the earth. 
This is quite different to suggesting that God is deliberate inflicting suffering on the world. The portrayal of a vengeful God is a far cry from the God who chooses to take the suffering of the world upon himself on the cross to save us from our sins. 
We are called to be stewards of God’s creation.  Repentance is undoubtedly needed as we have proved to be poor stewards.  We are also called to use the resources of the earth for the good of the whole creation.  Science is one of the wonderful ways we can learn more about the world and the mysteries of creation.  Science seeks to help use the resources of creation in the service humankind.
The development of the vaccines is precisely that – using the resources of creation to help all people. Throughout history, and still today, at their best faith and science are partners. Science has gifted humanity the vaccine and people of faith should be passionate in ensuring it reaches all people, and that none are excluded from its benefits.
Then there are those who bang the drum for their individual freedom: “I don’t have to have it if I don’t want it”.  Yes, individual freedom is very precious, and vaccination is not compulsory in this country.  But equally individual freedom must not be used to harm others.  Being vaccinated is not just about protecting ourselves; it is also about protecting other people.  We can become so wrapped up in our own views and needs we become blind to the needs to the wider society. 
Vaccination works by raising the level of protection across society.  This is what is known as herd immunity.  In a highly individualistic age, thinking of humanity as a herd may not be popular but the truth is that we are intimately dependant on each other. 
St Paul reminds us of this when he speaks of the Body of Christ and how the members all need each other.  Even if you do not want to get vaccinated for yourself do it for everyone else around you. As Her Majesty the Queen has so eloquently but simply put it: think about other people.
It is right to have a questioning mind and not to automatically go along with popular thought.  But this must never be at the cost of thinking the worst of others, distorting the nature of our faith or of assuming our needs are more important than those of others.  In the midst of this pandemic we need to learn afresh the importance of striving for the common good and seek our mutual flourishing.
The image above is courtesy of pexels.com

Andrew BryantCFThe Revd Andrew Bryant is the Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care at Norwich Cathedral. He was previously Team Rector of Portishead, Bristol, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and has served in parishes in the Guildford and Lichfield Dioceses, as well as working for twelve years with Kaleidoscope Theatre, a charity promoting integration through theatre for young adults with Down’s Syndrome.
You can read Andrew's latest blog entry
here and can follow him via his Twitter account @AndyBry3.

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(Guest) 08/03/2021 20:27
Dave Brennan, who lives in Norfolk with his wife and two young daughters and directs a ministry called Brephos, helping churches to respond to abortion, responds to Andrew Bryant’s opinion piece on getting the Covid-19 jab.
In an article that denounces “thinking the worst of others” as “a profoundly unchristian attitude”, it was strange that Andrew Bryant should begin by speaking so spitefully about “them”: those so despicable they hardly deserve to be named, it seems, except with the derogatory term, the “anti-vax brigade”.
Perhaps he could extend “them” the same courtesy and good faith that he is trying to get “them” to show the much more socially acceptable “scientific community”? Perhaps, in fact, he could leave behind altogether such unhelpful stereotypes, simplistic and polarising as they are. Otherwise, he is in danger of falling foul of his own purported standards.
There’s a word for that, and Jesus had plenty to say about it.
If he did take time to listen to “them” seriously, respectfully, instead of demonising them, he might discover that there are in fact concerns with regard to the vaccine that merit proper attention.
Bryant fails to mention in any way the very real conscientious objection that some have because the Oxford, Pfizer, and Moderna vaccines have all made use, in their development and/or testing phases, of a cell line derived from the kidney of a baby girl deliberately killed in the Netherlands in the 1970s. There are plenty of other ways to develop vaccines today, but Pfizer and the others still chose this route instead of the available alternatives.
Globally, the very same legalised baby genocide continues today, and, along with it, the practice of harvesting the organs of these babies by dissecting them either whilst still alive or shortly after being killed, for medical advancement.
As recently as 2015, nine babies were “water bag” aborted for the creation of the cell line WALVAX-2, similar to the HEK-293 used for our Covid-19 vaccines. Water bag abortion entails delivering the baby still in the sac so as to keep him or her alive as close to dissection time as possible, to ensure that their organs are “fresh”.
I and others, whom presumably Bryant has lumped indiscriminately into the abominable “anti-vax brigade”, find this practice of harvesting the organs of healthy human babies in the process of killing them abominable, and will not opt for a vaccine produced out of the fruit of such practice. We will not do, or tolerate, or benefit from, “evil so that good may result”. That principle, also, is in the Bible (Romans 3:8).
It is interesting that Bryant, whilst mentioning “repentance” with respect to our treatment of the earth, does not mention the need for repentance with respect to our treatment of God’s own image-bearers, the hundreds of thousands of innocent babies we slay in our land every year (210,000 last year).
The very fact that none of this occurred to Bryant when taking to his keyboard to commend the abortion-tainted vaccines is telling. Either he didn’t know these things, and therefore did not undertake the kind of research he is berating the “anti-vax brigade” for not doing, or he did know these things but did not consider them worth our attention, which would seem very far from the heart of God who hates child sacrifice because he loves children and true worship – and who also cares that Christians in particular should not violate their conscience (conscientious objection is mentioned nowhere in Bryant’s piece).
This being the case, we find once again that the very church leaders who are meant to be giving a moral lead and a prophetic voice at this crucial time in our nation’s history, are in fact only echoing the principles and preferences of the prevailing mainstream voices, and indeed for what it’s worth I believe that this is precisely why we are in such a mess in the first place.

Network Norfolk 08/03/2021 20:30
Network Norfolk fact check: According to international news agency Reuters:
“There are no foetal cells used in any vaccine production process,” Dr Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, told Reuters. “Some vaccines, including some of the COVID-19 vaccines are using cell strains that came from two foetuses that were aborted in the 1960s. It is important to note that the foetuses were not aborted because they were intended to be used in research and development. Over 50 years later, scientists are using descendants from that original cell line. Other vaccines made in this way include the polio and Ebola vaccines.”
Dave Brennan 09/03/2021 09:34
Respectfully, your "fact check" is itself inaccurate and misleading. Depending on your semantics, it is misleading to say there are "no foetal cells used", when foetal cell lines are used. These cell lines are derived entirely from a foetus. It would hardly be misleading to call them foetal cells. More indefensible is the claim that the foetuses in question were aborted "in the 1960s". It is an incontrovertible and widely accepted fact that in the case of HEK-293, it was a Dutch baby girl aborted in the 1970s (https://www.cbruk.org/what_the_hek). It would seem that your "fact check" is much less factually correct than that which it was purporting to correct?
Keith Morris 09/03/2021 10:10
Thank you Dave for your correction on the date of the HEK-293 cell line.
(Guest) 09/03/2021 10:53
Thank you for this Dave. It would be really helpful to have an article on this with more information regarding the different vaccines, even those not available in the Uk. Can you link me to any blog/reports/articles?
(Guest) 16/03/2021 13:09
https://www.cbruk.org/what_the_hek This would be a good place to start - and there's a petition on that website too for ethical alternatives to be made available in the UK (it seems that CureVac is indeed on its way).

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