Government and medical officials have recruited the help of spiritual leaders to encourage their congregation members to receive the vaccine and help slow the spread of COVID-19.
HOUSTON, TX, January 11, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — As the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out all around the world, there have been differing opinions about its safety and efficacy. According to US News in December 2020, while about 73% of Americans said they would definitely or probably get the COVID-19 vaccine, about 27% say they would probably not or definitely not receive it. According to a study by the Kaiser Foundation, those who would opt to not receive the vaccine say they would do so because they are worried about the side effects or that the vaccine itself would make them infected. Others say that they don’t believe COVID-19 “poses a serious threat” so they don’t see a need to get the vaccine.
In order to increase the percentage of people willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, officials have reached out to influential leaders such as pastors to help. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center survey, only about 50% of Protestant adults in the US are planning to receive the vaccine, significantly lower than the national average. Because of this, pastors have been urged to encourage their congregations to receive the vaccine and increase the overall number of people to get vaccinated. On December 3rd Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, encouraged Christians in the US to seek the truth about vaccines during a conversation with a Southern Baptist leader. Collins stated, “If you’re trying to size up benefits and risks and if you believe that God gives us the opportunity to act as his agents to try to relieve suffering and death, then it seems like this is a pretty good balance of benefits and risks that we want to engage in and probably take advantage of yourself and roll up your sleeve.” Collins is a Christian and also an influential geneticist who led research on the human genome.
Despite pleas from medical and governmental officials, some pastors still do not advise their congregations to receive the vaccine. One prominent Florida mega-church pastor urged his church members to “believe in divine immunity” instead of receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This pastor is also reported to have stated that truly faithful believers would not be afraid to continue to attend church in person.
However, a majority of churches are encouraging worship attendance online, social-distancing and mask-wearing. Some pastors are even going above and beyond by offering to be the first of their church to receive the vaccine to encourage others to do the same. One Bishop in Tennessee of the Church of God in Christ stated, “The church is now needed more than ever to speak to our people and to the broader community about whether or not we should take this vaccine. I am one who is convinced something has got to be done…. We want to protect and safeguard our people’s lives against this dreaded disease.”
A pastor’s influence in South Korea has proved to cause an impact that is saving lives by encouraging its members to donate plasma. Shincheonji Church of Jesus held record-breaking plasma donation drives to gather convalescent plasma from COVID-19-recovered members. Almost 6,000 total donations took place from July to December. About 1,700 members participated in the first two donation drives in July and September, and about 4,000 members participated in the third one spanning November and December. Prior to this donation, only 23 blood plasma donors in one month had donated in Korea. The drives were held at the request of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to aid in the speedy development of effective treatment for those suffering with COVID-19. Some members donated in two or even all three drives. The donated plasma was used to treat COVID-19 patients and for research in developing other effective treatments and vaccines. One 78-year-old COVID-19 patient who recently received plasma from the Shincheonji drives fully recovered as a last effort to treat him after remdesivir and dexamethasone did not work. The Deputy Director of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters in Korea stated about the donation, “We are grateful for the active participation of Shincheonji, and for the cooperation of the City of Daegu and the Korean Red Cross.”
As the influence of religious leaders is being used to encourage congregations to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, hopefully it will bring a faster end to the global pandemic.
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