Vaccination: An Act of Love

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Vaccination: An Act of Love

By Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

It is heartening to see that at last (if rather belatedly), there is a significantly increased uptake on vaccination spurred on perhaps in part by President Ramaphosa’s speech or the recognition that cases are rising extremely rapidly with the spread of the new Omnicron variant.

 

Leaving aside the rare situation of those with medical conditions which make vaccination inadvisable, we have a moral and spiritual responsibility to be vaccinated. Vaccination is not just about protecting ourselves from serious illness or death. It is also about protecting those with whom we come into contact. University of Melbourne scientists explain that a vaccinated person is twenty times less likely to infect someone else. While some of us may be strong and healthy and more likely to endure a bout of Covid without much difficulty, unvaccinated, we may be more likely to infect someone who is vulnerable and who may even die from the virus.

 

Being vaccinated also helps protect those who are immunocompromised and won’t themselves get the same level of protection from the vaccine. Or those who, for medical reasons, cannot get the vaccination. The more people in the population that are vaccinated, the safer the overall environment and the less space there is for the virus to mutate and develop new variants.

 

The spread of the virus also has huge implications for the economy and people’s livelihoods. Sectors such as the tourism, liquor and entertainment industries have been badly impacted. Some have lost their life savings trying to save their businesses and take care of their staff, many of whom are breadwinners for extended families. Many workers have been retrenched as there is no money to pay them. The unemployment levels in South Africa at 34.9% are at their highest level since 2008.

 

In some Catholic circles, it is disturbing that people are being told that the vaccines contain cells of aborted fetuses and that they should not take them. This is incorrect. The vaccines themselves do not contain any aborted fetal cells. It is true that in the 1970s and ’80s, scientists did use fetal tissue to start the cell lines that are used to test drugs now. However, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has been very clear that where alternative vaccines are not available, “it is morally acceptable to receive Covid19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

 

Pope Francis has been vaccinated and consistently urges people to vaccinate as an act of love “for oneself, love for our family and friends, and love for all peoples. Love is also social and political.”

 

The pandemic has made it increasingly evident that we are all interconnected and interdependent. Our decision whether or not to vaccinate does not affect us alone. It has significant ramifications for our world. Right now, widespread vaccination is our best and only viable option to stop the pandemic. Let’s encourage those who could be vaccinated but are hesitant to see this as the act of love it is.

 

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