Pediatric physician Scott James once said, “as we who have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) consider the questions surrounding vaccination, we should strive to honor Him with how we use that mind.” As Christians, our position on vaccinations for ourselves and our children should be based on what gives glory to God. That means focusing on empirical evidence, and not on anti-science propaganda, anecdotes, or celebrities. Even skepticism of government institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) needs to be reevaluated.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we read: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." God wants us to live healthy lives so that He can use our bodies to help spread His Word. The knowledge we have now is because God helped guide medical professionals in the right direction. Many like to call God the Great Physician. He can work through doctors to change the lives of people for the better. Here is why the Lord supports vaccination.
What are vaccines?
Before understanding why God supports vaccines, it is helpful to know what they are. Vaccines are used to immunize people against infectious diseases that can cause illness, severe disability or even death. Vaccination is treatment with a vaccine, usually by injection, that helps the immune system prepare to fight a future infection. Vaccines often contain tiny amounts of dead or weakened viruses or bacteria, or parts of them. Once in the body, the immune system will react to the vaccine without you experiencing the disease. This reaction also means that if the same disease-causing organism comes in contact with your immune system in the future, your body is able to quickly make antibodies that can stop the disease from making you sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinations throughout your life to protect against many infections. When you skip vaccines, you leave yourself vulnerable to illnesses such as shingles, pneumococcal disease, influenza, and HPV and hepatitis B, both leading causes of cancer.
Additionally, vaccines are safe. The US has the best post-licensure surveillance system in the world making vaccines extremely safe. There is extraordinarily strong data from many different medical investigators all pointing to the safety of vaccines. In fact, vaccines are among the safest products in all of medicine.
Vaccines keep us healthy.
The viruses and bacteria that cause illness and death still exist and can be passed on to those who are not protected by vaccines. In a time when people can travel across the globe in just one day, it is not hard to see just how easily diseases can travel too. Vaccine-preventable infections are dangerous. Every year, approximately 50,000 US adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the US.
Like eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting regular check-ups, vaccines play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Vaccines are one of the most convenient and safest preventive care measures available. As the scripture above already reminds us, staying healthy glorifies God. It keeps our bodies energized so we can serve Him better (Ephesians 2:10).
Vaccines help others who are at risk.
Infants and the elderly are at a greater risk for serious infections and complications in many cases, but vaccine-preventable diseases can strike anyone. If you are young and healthy, getting vaccinated can help you stay that way. A vaccine-preventable disease that might make you sick for a week or two could prove deadly for your children, grandchildren, or parents if it spreads to them.
Christians are told to strive to seek the common good (Jeremiah 29:7). The harm done to children from not getting vaccinated is exponentially greater than any harm that might come from using vaccines. With herd immunity, the choice to vaccinate our children protects those who cannot receive certain vaccinations due to allergies, ages, or a weakened immune system. We must always consider whether we are using our religious liberty or concern for parental rights as cover for a choice that may cause significant harm to the neighbors we are commanded to love (Matthew 22:36-40).
Additionally, while we may have a right as parents to forgo vaccinations, that means we must also accept the consequences of our actions. If we choose not to vaccinate our children, then we must accept that there will be some public institutions in which they cannot participate. Also, a parent who refuses to have their child vaccinated is morally responsible for the outcome of that choice. If their child were to get sick because of the rejection of the vaccine or cause other children to become sick, they would be morally culpable. The Bible tells us that we are responsible for where our children go in life (Proverbs 22:6).
Acts 1:8 reminds us that we are to be witnesses for other people. People look for us to be models of the Christian faith. We ought to desire to live our lives in a way that represents our faith well. Ensuring we are vaccinated, so that no others get sick, is one way that we can be a good witness.
Churches agree vaccines are important.
Evangelicals have historically been at the forefront of promoting vaccinations and see them as God's gift to modern medicine. Some Christians have adversity to vaccines, because the original vaccines made relied on use of cells from aborted fetuses. The Catholic Church concluded, in a 2005 statement, that those who receive vaccines are not culpable in the original abortions. Additionally, Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council suggests that Christians have the moral freedom to receive vaccines, though it also respects those Christians who come to a different conclusion after consideration and prayer. Lastly, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission wrote in a blog post that "Pro-life proponents of immunization point out that vaccines no longer rely on abortion to provide further fetal cells—and that the initial two abortions were not conducted to supply vaccine makers with fetal tissue in the first place."
It can be scary to vaccinate your child or yourself if you do not have all the facts. God, however, wants your family to live healthy lives. That means take the time to learn about vaccinations and how they can promote your health long-term. They are safe and effective gifts from God Himself.