EDITORIAL: Getting vaccinated is not against our religion

Photo credit: Jessica Banks


Editor’s note: This article was presented as a staff editorial. It received eight votes in favor and one abstaining vote.

Written by Jessica Banks and Grace Wride

For the first time in over four semesters, BYU-Idaho has opened its doors fully to students around the world in an effort to phase back to life before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU-I have encouraged individuals to do their part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 by receiving the vaccine. In order to fully return to normal, we must all participate and get the vaccine to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, the new delta variant and any other strains that might come in the future.

We at Scroll believe that all BYU-I students should get fully vaccinated to play their part in stopping the growth of the virus. It’s a simple task. We are not asking you to commit to a life of wearing masks. Two simple shots could save your life and the lives of others around you.

You can schedule your vaccination here.

What does getting vaccinated mean?

A lot of people think a vaccine is a shield from any and all illnesses associated with the virus at hand. But that isn’t how it works. If you get the vaccine, you can still get sick, it’s just less likely.

According to The World Health Organization, vaccines trigger an immune response in the body. They help the immune system prepare for a large dose of the virus if ever infected.

Knowing this information, it makes sense the vaccine wouldn’t act as an invincible shield that blocks all potential possibility of the virus entering a body’s system. If individuals with the vaccine come in contact with the virus, they can still get it, they will just have an easier time fighting it off.

The World Health Organization also touches on the concept of “herd immunity.” Herd immunity allows someone who isn’t able to get vaccinated to be protected if they live around a lot of others who are vaccinated. It makes it difficult when people who can get vaccinated, choose not to because they put people who can’t get the vaccine due to other health or immune deficiencies at risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a few groups of people at higher risk of bad reactions when contracting COVID-19 (such as people who are immunocompromised, elderly citizens and pregnant women). With their underlying health conditions, it makes sense for them to be cautious because they could get severely sick. We should get vaccinated for them.

Because people are dying from COVID-19, it is a selfish decision not to get vaccinated when you are able to.

Don’t get the vaccine because you are trying to succumb to the government’s hypothetical desire to insert a chip into American citizens. Get the vaccine out of care and concern for people who don’t have as strong of an immune system as you might have.

Medical professions have worked hard to debunk myths about the vaccine (chips included). Some common concerns are the legitimacy of the vaccine and how quickly scientists developed it.

It’s legit

On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by way of what is called emergency use authorization. In order for this to happen, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services must declare a significant public health emergency.

To reach FDA approval, scientists conducted thousands of clinical tests involving many months of monitoring post-administration reactions.

“The public and medical community can be confident that although we approved this vaccine expeditiously, it was fully in keeping with our existing high standards for vaccines in the U.S.,” the FDA stated in a news release.

It’s been a long time coming

A concern many people seem to have is the “rushed” nature of the vaccine. They don’t trust pumping something into their body that has a birthdate younger than the average college student’s succulent.

We should be talking about Peter Hotez more often than we are. He and his team started working on a vaccine for the coronavirus over a decade ago. During an interview with the American Medical Association, he explained how he began researching this disease a long time ago.

“Now, about 10 years ago, we got approached by a group at the New York Blood Center led by Shibo Jiang and Lanying Du that had a pretty good idea for coronavirus vaccines,” Hotez said in the interview. “At the time, nobody cared about coronavirus vaccines. They were sort of orphaned. So, we adopted it just like we adopted Chagas disease vaccines and leishmaniasis vaccines.”

Obviously, they weren’t specifically researching a vaccine for COVID-19, but they utilized previous knowledge.

“How can you make a vaccine in a few weeks?” Hotez asked. “Well, the answer is they didn’t. All of the vaccines for Operation Warp Speed build on our research, and my colleagues’ research over the last decade showing how we can deliver the spike protein. It’s a 10 year R&D program just like any other vaccine. When people hear that, that actually builds confidence.”

Hotez went on to explain that pharmacy CEOs write their briefs for their shareholders. They want it to sound like their teams did something impossible. While the work was impressive, it’s incomplete to act as if they started from scratch. This knowledge can encourage those skeptical of the vaccine to trust that this has been in the works for a while.

It’s not against our religion

According to the Church newsroom, from a First Presidency Message on Aug. 12, the First Presidency strongly urged Church members to get the vaccine to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders,” said the First Presidency in the message.

We fasted for a miracle. This is a miracle. Vaccines traditionally take significantly longer to develop, but even as pointed out earlier that this vaccine might not be as new as everyone thought, it is still a miracle that a remedy was provided to help us fight this war.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, some members of the church are seeking religious waivers for the COVID-19 vaccine. If the person you believe to be the prophet of God is urging all individuals to get the vaccine, what is the religious waiver rooted in?

Many Church members consistently bring up the principle of agency. Regardless of how selectively this principle is used in political and social issues, many individuals cling to this God-given right.

Agency is beautiful and a wonderful gift we have all been given. We are constantly urged to protect people’s agency. However, are we forgetting the great commandment? “Love one another as I have loved you.” What is far greater to you? Agency or the greatest commandment of all?

On Aug. 6, President Henry J. Eyring encouraged all BYU-I students to get vaccinated. We encourage all students and members of the Rexburg community to get vaccinated. Millions of vaccinated people prove that it’s safe and effective. It’s an act of love for our neighbors. It’s necessary to end the woes this pandemic instilled.

If we are all trying to be like Jesus by emulating charity, we need to be charitable to all. We can show charity by getting vaccinated.

Charity for the immunocompromised.

Charity for the elderly.

Charity for all.

Once we all do it, we can finally shut up about it.