Source: Jesuit Institute South Africa
It is encouraging to see that finally (albeit belatedly) there is a significant increase in the uptake of vaccination, spurred perhaps in part by President Ramaphosa’s speech or the recognition that cases are increasing extremely quickly with the spread of the new Omicron variant.
Leaving aside the rare situation of those with medical conditions that make vaccination inadvisable, we have a moral and spiritual responsibility to get vaccinated. Vaccination is not just about protecting us against serious illness or death. It is also about protecting those with whom we are in contact. Scientists at the University of Melbourne 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 too much difficulty, unvaccinated, we may be more likely to infect a vulnerable person who may even die from the virus.
Getting vaccinated also helps protect those who are immunocompromised and will not get the same level of protection from the vaccine themselves. Or those who, for medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated. The more vaccinated people in the population, 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, alcoholic beverage and entertainment industries have been severely affected. Some have lost their savings trying to save their businesses and take care of their staff, many of whom are the breadwinners of extended families. Many workers have been made redundant because there is no money to pay them. South Africa’s unemployment rate of 34.9% is at its highest level since 2008.
In some Catholic circles, it is concerning that people are told that vaccines contain cells from aborted fetuses and that they should not be taken. This is a mistake. The vaccines themselves do not contain any aborted fetal cells. It is true that in the 1970s and 1980s, scientists used fetal tissue to create the cell lines that are used today to test drugs. However, the Vatican 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 of aborted fetuses in their research and production process. “
Pope Francis has been vaccinated and constantly urges people to get vaccinated as an act of love “for oneself, love for our family and friends, and love for all people. Love is also social and political “.
The pandemic has made it increasingly evident that we are all interconnected and interdependent. Our decision to vaccinate or not does not concern us alone. It has important ramifications for our world. Right now, widespread immunization is our best and only viable option to stop the pandemic.
Encourage those who could be vaccinated but who are reluctant to see it as an act of love.
Follow Annemarie Paulin-Campbell on Twitter @annemariepc_c
Follow the Jesuit Institute on Twitter @JesuitInstitute
Key words: Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, South Africa, Vaccination
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