During the second week of 2021, one of my friends died from COVID-19. He went home for Christmas and Covid then claimed his life. Phil is fine, he is with the Lord Jesus that he served for all his adult life. But his wife and children have been left to grieve their loss. They now face a staggering mountain of medical bills. Phil is only one of the almost 600,000 lives and counting that have been claimed by this pandemic in the USA alone. We do well to realize that over 32,000,000 people have been infected. Each infection creates pockets of stress making this pandemic almost unbearable for many families.
The week after my friend died I experienced a glimmer of hope — injected into my left arm. At 6:30pm on January 13th I received the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Fifteen minutes later I was on my way home.
Since this vaccine received emergency authorization on Dec. 11th, I had been anticipating getting this shot like a child waiting to open their Christmas gifts. Finally there was a light at the end of the tunnel! I could anticipate the time when I shed my fear of contracting this lethal virus enough to actually hug my daughters and their families! On my doctors orders, I cut myself off from virtually all human contact except for the loving touches and hugs of my wife Sheila (for whom I am now even more grateful!). When my friend Charles alerted me that Piedmont Athens Hospital was emailing vaccination invitations to at risk patients, I opened my email inbox and there it was – a link to schedule an appointment.
When my appointment came just three days later, the experience was very much like getting a flu shot. I felt a small prick as the vaccine was injected, then I got a vaccination record card, received instructions on scheduling my 2nd shot in twenty-one days, sat in a chair for fifteen minutes, and it was over. The whole experience was easy, even pleasant.
In the information provided I learned that the vaccine is designed to make the body think coronavirus proteins are invading, thus inducing an immune system attack that can then be remembered and reproduced if the real coronavirus is ever encountered. Because of this, there are a few common side effects: fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and mild fever.
Personally, I experienced nothing but a slight soreness at the injection site for a couple of days. Honestly, It felt no worse than any other hypodermic injection. My experience and my research have convinced me that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe. Both went through rigorous clinical trials and are endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel.
Let me say that again, these vaccines are safe. They do not cause autism. They do not change your DNA. They do not contain “deep state” microchips. They are not part of some nefarious conspiracy. Believe medical experts and scientists, not Q-Anon wackos and all the social media “influencers” fanning the flames of anti-vaccine skepticism.
Yes, as Americans we all have the freedom to choose whether to be vaccinated or not, but your choice might make the difference between the elderly and those at risk staying infection free or struggling to survive a COVID-19 infection! We who are Christians have freedom of choice as well. But we have guidance to help us make good choices. Jesus taught that our first choice is to love the Lord our God with all our being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. One choice, not two, love God which is demonstrated by loving our neighbor. When you choose to be vaccinated you are loving your neighbor as yourself. Can the same be said of the choice not to be vaccinated? More people being vaccinated brings more neighbors under our umbrella of protection. If not for yourself, please be vaccinated for your neighbor.
It is now May 2021, but this pandemic is still raging. Health experts warn that more deaths are coming. We should be so grateful for the availability of these vaccines! Consider countries like India. Many nations don’t have enough vaccines! Here in the USA we have plenty of vaccines, but a paucity of people willing to use them! I need you to keep my glimmer of hope alive! Each vaccination is emotionally a shot in the arm for me! Vaccines are available at your local health department, hospital, Doctor, pharmacy or even your grocery store. Getting your shot is a simple a service with a profound impact! Be a good example to your family, friends and your neighbor around the corner and around the world.
The day after my second vaccination, I was a little sorer but a whole lot safer. I was vaccinated for my loved ones and myself. I was vaccinated to “love my neighbor as myself”. I was vaccinated so I can hug my grandsons. I was vaccinated to do my part to help us return to a life without social distancing.
What are you waiting for, go get your shot! Don’t throw away your chance to show the world “loving your neighbor as yourself” is more than a platitude!