The Heart of the Vaccine Debate

Vaccine_KTSMHave you ever sat around the table fellowshipping with  people around you and someone brings up the popular topic of “whether or not we as society should endorse or fight against vaccinations for our children?” Often times the fellowship times turn into both sides of the debate taking arms against each other commencing with firing off facts and opinions or horror stories that start with,” Well my girlfriend said, “ or “ I read this one article.” For some reason this hot topic of whether or not vaccinations should occur has really influenced our society and even crept in the church setting and caused division.

Why is that the case? It’s not the topic being debated that is the true issue. It is the how it is discussed and how we interact with fellow lovers of Christ that will either bring God glory over the subject or distract from His glory! As Ephesians 5:1 says, “We are to be imitators of God as Beloved Children and are to walk in love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”  As imitators of our precious Savior, we have the responsibility to accurately reflect Him to those we interact with regarding every topic.  We can discuss, have opinions and even disagree on things that the bible does not specifically address, all for the glory of God!

In this post, I desire to give you some things to consider as you make the to or not to vaccinate decision. As an adult ICU nurse, I see a lot of people that are fighting disease. Sometimes those diseases are curable and sometimes they are not. My desire is to offer you what I’ve learned through education and experience to help you make an informed decision on whether or not you and your husband are led by the Lord to vaccinate you and/or your family.

What does a vaccine actually do?

Vaccines work by introducing your immune system to a weakened and smaller amount of the virus that causes sickness. Your macrophages ingest and sounds the alarm of an intruder. It gives “base camp” in your lymph nodes the chance to elicit an immune response that will allow your lymphocytes to form memory cells against a specific type of disease so that when the body encounters the disease, causing microbe, your body will know how to fight it! It doesn’t always means that you will NEVER get the sickness, but it does mean that your body will be better equipped to fight off the disease and you will not fully experience the course of a disease process. That is why some vaccines are given as boosters

There are many different types of vaccines. The most common type is called a “live” or “attenuated” vaccine, which is a live form of the virus that has been scientifically weakened to a point that has a significantly lesser risk of causing disease. These types of viruses cause a stronger immune response. Viruses survive by mutation, therefore, yes, it is possible for a virus to mutate back to a stronger point if not cared for properly. However, there is close monitoring of this and the likelihood of this happening is next to none because of how weakened they are. There are also situations when a person should not receive a live vaccine. Someone with aids or cancer, for instance, already have a compromised immune system and should not have live vaccines. Examples of a live virus include things like: Measles, mumps, rubella, polio (Sabin vaccine), or yellow fever.

Second VaccinneThere are also many other types of vaccines other than Live. They include inactivated vaccines, toxoid vaccines, subunit, and conjugate, DNA Vaccines, and Recombant Vector Vaccines. I didn’t list all of those to sounds smart, but rather to let you see that there are a multitude of vaccinations and ways that they work. What I want to encourage you to do is to look into the types of vaccinations you are either for or against. I would caution you to look at the source of where you get your information about vaccinations as well. Basing your conclusion on articles that are on social media, written by non-medical healthcare professionals, your own intuition, or even culture, can be dangerous if you truly understand the power of these invisible organisms.

You should also consider that one of the reasons that this topic has become such a debate in that last several years is because vaccines have been so effective in the eradication of disease. In the 18th century the variola virus killed one in every 7 children in Russia. In the U. S in the 1950’s, tens of thousands of people were crippled every year by the polio virus. Those are just two of the diseases that were known as horrible death sentences. Now, we are not nearly as threatened by them because of the effectiveness of vaccinations. Beware before you jump on the banishing the idea of vaccinations bandwagon if you haven’t considered the consequences if society does reject vaccinations. We will see a re-occurrence of these diseases, which can be deadly. I’ve been with people at times when they are dying and have watched them suffer from disease. Disease is a part of this sin cursed world we live in. However, being able to stop some of our suffering through God’s grace in vaccinations is a huge blessing.

How do vaccinations come into being?

vaccine 3It takes years to have a vaccination developed. The people that are developing these are members of the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. It takes years to get a vaccine approved for use. Some have been being researched for up to 50 years in order to ensure that the proper testing, applications, observations and results are compiled and applied and then monitored while in use. Consider that although these people may make money, it is an unfair and very biased opinion to assume that they are only about making money, considering all the time and energy put in researching these diseases.

Things to consider:

No vaccine is fail-proof or perfectly safe for everyone. Not everyone should have all vaccinations due to health, history, age, or current medical conditions. Please talk with you primary care provider about what category you and your family members fall into. Every person has a unique body that can respond differently to certain types of medication. However, just like someone with a peanut allergy shouldn’t start a campaign to ban the production and ingestion of peanuts, so a person who can’t have a certain type of vaccination should proclaim that no one should ever be vaccinated.

Please don’t confuse side effects with allergic reactions. Some vaccinations can cause hives, itching, fever, redness or soreness at insertion site or an anaphylactic reaction. However, some people can have anaphylactic reactions to ibuprofen, but that doesn’t mean you take it off the market. Remember that the point of a vaccine is to elicit an immune response so that you don’t have to deal with the original disease. The side effects of a fever or runny nose way outweigh the potential of getting an original disease. Be careful on how much you listen to rumors or social media on what causes Autism, Guillian Barre and cancer. The CDC has clearly come out and denied that there is any valid scientific evidence that vaccinations cause these disease processes. Do your own research. Make this a matter of prayer and get the advice of your healthcare provider!

To summarize:

We are believers and disciples of a sovereign and powerful God who is able to heal disease. However in His mercy and grace He has given us resources through medicine that we must carefully and prayerfully consider how to use. The heart of the vaccine debate is our motive behind our opinions. We must have hearts of humility, love, and obedience as we interact with the people around us. Are you endeavoring to build up the body of Christ in every interaction over every topic? Or are we more interested in promoting our own agenda and being right!? May we all endeavor to have the mind of Christ our Savior, and as Ephesians 5 talks about, we should be “Imitators of God” as we live in light of eternity.

  • Cotton Mather, an American Puritan preacher, campaigned to put to use the vaccines available to eliminate small pox in the Massachusetts colony, which had devastated it having taken the lives of many (J. Edwards was a part of that as well). However, articles were published and rumors spread that they had put a “cow-pox serum” in the small pox vaccination as a conspiracy against anyone who used it. Vaccinated victims would consequentially grow horns and moo. As a result, the public cry was that Mather must be lynched. Of course, modern objections to vaccinations have since been refined (though I have also heard some pretty WILD conspiracy theories), but I still see it as a matter of loving your neighbor. The risks associated with the vaccination are way better than the risks of the diseases we’re being vaccinated from. Great article Abbi, and way to go big on a hot subject for your debut! Thanks for posting!

    • Karl Heitman

      Wasn’t it the smallpox inoculation that killed Edwards?

      • Yes! Actually, it was! The smallpox vaccine was in a very unrefined stage. But Edwards, recognizing his position of great influence (having just become President of Princeton), need to model biblical love. The loving thing, Edwards believed, was to put your life at the minimal risk associated with the vaccine, for the greater good of the public.

  • Chris Bruynzeel

    Thank you for this…great reminder, wise counsel

  • Kash

    I always find it hilarious when certain groups of Christians are against women teaching or having authority over men
    except when it comes to books or blogs
    aka
    a woman can teach and have authority over a man on issues etc as long as it is in written form and not verbally spoken!

    seems pretty inconsistent and silly…