Editorial written by Megan Chatterley, Mary Kebker, Mikayla Smith and Madelyn Wilson. Approved by everyone on Scroll’s editorial board.
“We have prayed often for this literal godsend,” said President Russell M. Nelson in a recent Instagram post. “As a former surgeon and medical researcher, I know something of the effort needed to accomplish such a remarkable feat. Producing a safe, effective vaccine in less than a year is nothing short of miraculous.”
Not only was the development of the vaccine miraculous, but it was also something that we as individuals and in religions and denominations across the world fasted and prayed fervently for.
President Nelson further described how in 1953 the polio vaccine contributed to nearly eradicating the disease and saving thousands of lives.
We at Scroll believe in the importance of trusting religious and medical leaders, data and science, and in keeping an open mind in our search for truth, particularly in regards to the COVID-19 vaccine.
As we search for truth, we can follow the examples of our leaders and find our own information through research and broadening our perspective.
What to keep in mind when researching
When doing your own research, you may be questioning where to start or what to look up. You should start with credible sources; these usually look like government websites or less biased news outlets such as the Atlantic where information is simply being relayed.
If you get wrapped up in the hearsay of Facebook posts from your family or even TikToks from your favorite creators, it could cause a commotion of misinformation. Instead of just instantly believing what you hear, find where the information is coming from.
One good source to start your research is the website for Food and Drug Administration on the page for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. On this website, it lists common side effects, frequently asked questions and Covid-19 educational resources.
When starting your research you should be skeptical as well as open-minded.
Being skeptical is an important thing to keep in mind while doing your research. You need to be able to look at a post or even an article and depict whether it’s fact or someone else’s opinion on the subject. Let your mind be changed if you come across something that you may not have thought about. Researching is an important step to understanding the reasoning behind things as well as coming to the knowledge for yourself rather than taking on the opinion of those around you.
Being open-minded is also an integral part of conducting your own research. Preconceived ideas and firmly held beliefs prevent you from accepting the truth when it is found. These act as walls blocking your mind from new information and thus limiting your perspective.
Admitting we may be wrong is difficult. It hurts our pride. However, changing your perspective and embracing new information is brave and admirable.
“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.” Doctrine and Covenants 64:34
The Lord requires the heart — a real desire to know the truth — and a willing mind, or accepting that we don’t know everything. We need to be OK with being wrong. The research we do will have no impact and won’t change us unless we are willing to hear and believe the information that is presented by reliable and trustworthy sources.
Here’s what we know about the vaccine
Three major benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19 include preventing you from contracting the disease, providing a safer way to build immunity (instead of exposure) and acting as an important tool to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
A common concern is the speed at which the vaccines were developed. The pandemic “spurred global cooperation for vaccine research and distribution,” according to Medical News Today, resulting in the fastest vaccine in history, surpassing the previous record of four years to develop the mumps vaccine in 1967.
This was made possible not only by global cooperation, but also by an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the department’s website.
Those involved in the development of the vaccine have sought to be as transparent as possible because these scientists know the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh the risks of contracting the virus. Clinical trials were conducted starting in June 2020, and the data from these trials show the approved vaccines are safe and effective.
According to the CDC, common side effects of the vaccine include pain and swelling at the site of the shot, fever, chills, tiredness and headache — symptoms that are easily resolved with over-the-counter pain medicines, staying hydrated and keeping comfortable while these symptoms run their course.
While there are many different sources out there shouting for our attention, we can find comfort and answers in the things we can trust. We can trust science and data. We can trust a living prophet. We can trust our own thoughts, feelings and intuitions.
Those pushing the vaccine want what’s best for us. They want us to stay healthy and better able to fight off infections. Those leading us do not want to steer us wrong or lead us down a bad path. They’re here to help, and they know vaccination is what will help us the most.
We can listen to advice from leaders, both medical and Church-related, without blindly following along. We don’t want to be sheep just going where we’re told. So do your own research, using trustworthy sources. Do your own digging, even if it’s hard and challenges your preconceived notions. Pray for your own confirmation, because God is the ultimate source of truth. By doing this, you will feel more confident in your decision, no matter what the outcome ends up being.
“My professional and ecclesiastical experiences convince me that vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life,” said President Nelson in his recent Instagram post. “Receiving the vaccine today was part of our personal efforts to be good global citizens in helping to eliminate COVID-19 from the world.”