Church leadership came out with the following statement today:
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the following message on Thursday, August 12, 2021, to Church members around the world:
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.
To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.
We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.
The First Presidency
Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring
This statement has already been sent to me several times by triumphant people who hate the common sense things I have written on M* since the start of the pandemic. If you want to see hatred, you should see the emails and messages I get. But even if there are hundreds of people out there who apparently hate me, I do not respond in kind. The Gospel is not about hate, it is about loving God, loving Christ and supporting Church leadership.
I support Church leadership. I support my bishop, I support my EQ president, I support my stake president, and I support all Church leaders including President Nelson, who I have no doubt is inspired.
So, will this message change me or what I write? No, it will not. Here is what the people who hate me do not apparently understand: I have no problem with voluntary calls by the Church or anybody else for people to wear masks and get vaccinated. My concern has always been with government mandates for lockdowns, masks or vaccination. The Church asks for voluntary measures, not mandatory, government enforced measures. I have no issues with that.
When my local ward said we must wear masks to Sacrament meeting, I went every week and wore a mask. When the temple said we must wear masks if we wanted to attend, I wore a mask (and fyi: the masks turned out not to be required when I actually got there, but I was willing to wear a mask to attend. There is a lot of social distancing at our local temple). When a brother I minister to asked me to wear a mask when I visit, I wore a mask without a problem. The Church is asking members to get vaccinated. I have said from the beginning of the pandemic that I am open to getting vaccinated eventually. I have already gotten COVID, and I have anti-bodies, so I don’t need to get vaccinated now. But some day? Sure. I have written multiple times that people at high risk from COVID should be vaccinated.
My primary message today is to the many hundreds of people I know personally and have heard from in the last 18 months who oppose the Church’s position on masks and vaccines. The Church is still true. Nothing has changed. Why is the Church taking a position that you find difficult to support, a position that is not supported by many scientific studies? The Church’s mission is to spread the Gospel. The Church cannot be known as the “anti-vax church” or the “anti-mask church.” In addition, the Church has a long history of supporting vaccines. We cannot expect the Church to say that all of the past vaccines are OK, but the COVID vaccines are not.
To those who oppose the Church’s position on masks and vaccines, there is another important point: we will all be tested in our different ways as to whether we will follow the Brethren, even if we disagree. For progressive Mormons, the test over the last 20 years has been a difficult one, and many have fallen away. The progressives who I most respect are those who say, “I don’t understand and I oppose the Church’s position on this issue, but I still support the Brethren and my local leadership, and I know the Book of Mormon really was translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God.” The progressives who are still going to Church and keeping their covenants even though the Church is against gay marriage, against elective abortion, against government welfare and against the transgender agenda are modern-day heroes.
So, to my conservative friends who oppose masks and vaccines, I say: keep your covenants, keep on going to Church, keep on watching Conference, keep on going to the temple, keep on doing your calling. All will be made clear in time.
So, sorry to disappoint the haters, but I am completely at peace with the First Presidency’s announcement today.
But I do have some questions for readers to consider:
1)Do you support the Church’s positions on masks and vaccines but oppose the Church’s position on gay marriage? How about on abortion or gender identity issues?
2)Do you believe the Church is saying EVERYBODY should be vaccinated, including infants? How about women who are pregnant or people with Guillain-Barre Syndrome? (Keep in mind before you answer that the WHO has said that people under the age of 18 should not get vaccinated).
3)In our ward, we practice social distancing, but most people do not wear face masks. Do you think we are somehow violating the Church’s position?
4)Will you personally try to be kind to people who decide not to get vaccinated or wear masks?
5)Do you only eat meat and chicken during the winter, or “in times of cold, or of famine?” (See D&C 89:13 — if you have ever had a hot dog or hamburger for July 4 in the United States, the answer is no).
6)What do you think Joseph Smith meant when he said, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves?”
7)Are the questions “do you wear a mask during social situations?” and “are you vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2?” asked during temple recommend interviews? Do you think members would act differently if these questions were asked during temple recommend interviews, and why is that?
Save for the title (Which can and will be misunderstood) this is a brilliant essay that I’m printing for my desk and sharing all over Facebook. I’m sure I’ll get bawled out by enemies, friends, and family. Nothing new. For generations, my family has a tradition of getting along with each other except when we’re in close proximity to each other. (There’s even a strong hint that one of my ancestors was a Carthage Grey!)
Grandpa Chet, I have really enjoyed some of the things I have seen you write, but when I try to go to your web site it says it is “launching soon.” Apparently I saw your writing on another web site. Take care.
Ah, you’re looking at my old diabetes lecturer/mentalist/magician site. This out-of-warranty physical body forced me to retire from teaching Living With Diabetes (using mentalism or magic to get audiences, whether children or “grown-ups”) — but I keep the website just to keep from losing the URL name. Gotta fix that up one of these days, with an entirely different focus.
Well said, Geoff. I appreciate how you are posing questions – and encouraging both faith in the prophetic mantle, and space for those grappling with this recent counsel. My favorite part of your essay was this:
“The progressives who I most respect are those who say, “I don’t understand and I oppose the Church’s position on this issue, but I still support the Brethren and my local leadership, and I know the Book of Mormon really was translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God.” The progressives who are still going to Church and keeping their covenants even though the Church is against gay marriage, against elective abortion, against government welfare and against the transgender agenda are modern-day heroes. So, to my conservative friends who oppose masks and vaccines, I say: keep your covenants, keep on going to Church, keep on watching Conference, keep on going to the temple, keep on doing your calling. All will be made clear in time.”
My only question with the letter is the false statements in it. I don’t have a problem with encouraging vaccination or other measures but calling government and health officials “wise” when they are clearly not is a problem for me. Thanks for your perspective.
I read that last paragraph as implicitly suggesting that if ‘recommendations’ are not ‘wise and thoughtful’, perhaps there’s some room for civil disobedience. Coupled with compassion for those who believe differently, this seems to indicate a more nuanced approach to juggling personal beliefs and governmental dictates, as well as our desire as Saints to be good neighbors.
In general, I agree with Geoff – my concern is more about governmental overreach than the decisions of others in regards to masks and vaccines, so this statement doesn’t really bother me per se.
However, I do wish that more people would start talking about the fact that those who’ve had Covid are effectively immune – and that more studies are coming out that suggest that immunity is long-term; surely that changes the threshold for how many people need to get vaccinated?
Anna, at no point were “medical experts and government leaders” accused of being wise or thoughtful. Rather, it said that we should follow “the wise and thoughtful recommendations” of such, assuming you can find any.
On the other hand, “Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.” is definitely an unsupported statement given the reports out of Israel, the US and other countries of breakthrough cases in the vaccinated, and the unprecedented number of reactions reported through VAERS.
Just a note as well, there will be people that resist masks and vaccinating. My policy thru Covid has been to just give people the Grace they need to make their own choices, and I will make my choices. I’m not a fan of masks, and I have questions about these vaccines that I cannot get answered. I don’t care if people feel differently than me. I’ll probably change the subject if someone is talking about this in public as well. Covid is tearing the Saint apart though, and we need to work on that.
I chose to be vaccinated. I am 59 years old. Of course, I weighed the pros and cons. Non-members can use the Light of Christ or their best reasoning or a gut feeling. As members, ideally our only “gut feelings” should be promptings from the Holy Spirit… Ideally. So, I was vaccinated in June (zero side effects, Pfizer) At the end of July, a relative was diagnosed with a serious illness and I am now in France visiting with her. Without the vaccine, it would be a video call or zoom. No travel to France. Not the same thing. Wearing a mask, even if it’s scientifically useless in some cases, is OK with me as Geoff described in his post. Now, for little children, I’m not so sure it’s good for them. We’ll learn a lot about this virus and the role of government in our lives as this continues to unfold.
PS. Geoff, you write that the First Presidency hopes the Saints will voluntarily get vaccinated. But they write, “WE URGE…” twice.
There are many things we are urged about as disciples of Christ. It’s overwhelming sometimes. Missionary work is urgent. Temple work is urgent. Temporal preparedness is urgent.. Forgiveness is urgent. Repentance is urgent.
Listening to Prophets is urgent. What do you all think? When Prophets say, “we urge”…
I am okay with wearing masks when in the midst of other people, as a courtesy to them. A mask will capture many of the small water molecules in my exhalation (and speaking and sneezing), and those molecules won’t reach others who are susceptible to the virus. I am vaccinated, but I understand a vaccinated person can still transmit to others.
I don’t know for sure, but I believe the First Presidency’s statement is based on far more than not wanting to be seen by the public as an anti-mask or anti-vaxx church. I believe their statement urging vaccination among church members is a sincere sentiment and earnest request.
I have had a lot of people reach out to me over the last day regarding Church policy. These are people who are really struggling with the Church’s stance on masks and vaccines. I want to reiterate this in a comment aimed at my fellow Saints:
The Church is true even if the Brethren adopt a policy we disagree with. This is part of our mortal test. Can we maintain personal worthiness even in the face of decisions by the Brethren that we disagree with? I hope so. I had a thought this morning: maybe there is a worse virus coming and the COVID vaccine will help fight off that virus. That would explain the Church’s actions. We can see that Pres. Nelson clearly is inspired. How can we look at the introduction of Come Follow Me and the home-centered church a year or so before the virus and not believe that our prophet is inspired? I know he is inspired and that all will be clear over time. So keep the faith, brothers and sisters.
I am thankful that we live–as of yet–in a free society where differing points of view don’t land us in jail, a re-education camp, or worse. It’s sad that some want to “cancel” others, not just in reputation online but to the point of destroying careers. Contentious world. Fallen world. Grateful for the Gospel.
“The Church is true even if the Brethren adopt a policy we disagree with. This is part of our mortal test. Can we maintain personal worthiness even in the face of decisions by the Brethren that we disagree with? I hope so.”
Geoff, I linked to your page from someone disagreeing with your post, and I suspect we have very different stances on government involvement in this whole *waves hands around* situation, but I love the sentiment quoted above, and appreciate your thoughtfulness around this. I’ve thought a lot since the Church’s statement came out yesterday about how people might react to it, and have compared that to my own reaction to the Church’s policies in other areas and came to a similar conclusion- we all have our sticking points and our tests and what’s important is how we approach those things, how we wrestle with these conflicts and allow them to (hopefully) polish rather than break us.
Thanks for these thoughts!
These two talks (and Ensign articles) from Elder Oaks and then-Elder Nelson from 2005/2006/2007 bear repeating:
Elder Oaks talk on dating in 2005: “We teach the principles, the exceptions are between you and the Lord.” (paraphrased).
Elder Nelson taught the same thing at a CES fireside the same year:
“Through the years you will note that apostles and prophets teach the rule. We don’t teach exceptions to the rule. Exceptions are left to individual agency and accountability. The Lord knows we live in an imperfect world. He knows it is “ripening in iniquity” (D&C 18:6). His judgments will be fair, just, and merciful.”
Link to html Ensign reprint of the talk: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2007/03/faith-and-families?lang=eng
Book, yes, I have been thinking about those talks a lot lately.
Geoff, I respect your thoughtful take on this. In answer to your question #7, of course it would make a difference to people if those questions were part of the TR interview. I suspect vaccination would jump 20% among church members. Let me ask you, could you respect a person who goes to the temple who lives the word of wisdom “as they understand it” in a way that is a little different than what the leadership has explicitly set out?
A couple thoughts come to mind: (paraphrased) that it’s not good for us to be “compelled” in all things and, whether by my own voice, or that of my servants it is the same…
For those here who have called it a “test,” I’m interested in hearing more from you; answers depend on how questions are framed. Does the nature of a test in this context indicate a right or wrong answer exists with respect to getting the vaccine or not? Or does the test refer to how we continue as disciples of Christ regardless of getting vaccinated?
When I first heard about this letter, I could not believe the First Presidency would take such a strong stand about some things with such limited usefulness like wearing a mask at church.
Upon further reading, I believe that the primary messages in this statement are: 1) wear a mask to church, if social distancing is not possible. 2) Get vaccinated if you can, if your risk is equivalent or higher than the general population. Do not rely on the partisan political message that the virus is an excuse to control the population and therefore every government recommendation should be opposed by freedom loving people.
Some other general notes on this message. They say “we KNOW that protection … can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.” In this sentence, the key word is immunizing as opposed to vaccinating. If you read this as meaning vaccinated using one of the currently available vaccines in the US, then the sentence does not make sense. The current vaccines will not provide the high level of immunization that would be required to stop Covid-19.
In the second paragraph, they note that social distancing is preferred, but that they urge use of masks, where distancing cannot be done. This priority level makes sense. They do not reference the effectiveness of masking, like they do for vaccination. Could they want people to wear masks in church solely to make the members who are very fearful feel more comfortable? They then note that vaccines provide personal protection from the most severe effects and urge their use. Fortunately this is still true, even for the delta variant. The last sentence about the vaccines being safe and effective is true for most adults, versus the full effects of the viral infection. For others, like almost all children, this is not the case. The risk reduction of vaccination is not greater than the risks of Covid-19 infection for most children and many others.
The final paragraph makes reference to “wise and thoughtful recommendations”
but does not specify any others. Presumably, being vaccinated to prevent severe illness and social distancing are the primary ones.
In summary, I think that this message is in response to the increasing infections from the delta variant reminding people that vaccination is not just a political tool, even though some people treat it like that. For the church, they are not going to generally shut down meetings, although measures to allow more social distancing may be implemented. In order to increase attendance at our meetings, they want the members to wear masks when distancing is not possible. As for me and my family, we will wait to see more data on the effectiveness of the vaccines for our circumstances. We also plan to arrive to church early and sit where we want to, but not wear masks. Let those who are comfortable with that sit by us. Our stake presidency has recently reiterated that there will be social distancing seats available in all units. At worst, we will sit in the back of the overflow in the distanced seats.
Bro. B, let me answer your question with a story. I was baptized 24 years ago when I was in my mid-30s. Right after I was baptized I drank some coffee because I thought the WoW was a suggestion rather than a commandment and I had been a coffee addict before I was baptized. But I felt guilty and went to the bishop and asked him his opinion, and he said, “no, you need to repent of drinking coffee.” So, I have not had a drop of coffee since then. However, I do have caffeine in Diet Cokes or in energy drinks and even in Excedrin. Am I breaking the WoW? Technically, no, because I am not drinking coffee or tea, or alcohol and I don’t smoke anything, but I can tell you that most of the members I know drink sodas and energy drinks, but is that breaking the spirit of the WoW? Maybe, but I feel at peace about it, whereas I would not feel at peace about drinking coffee. I also mentioned the whole meat-eating thing (D&C89:13), which appears to mostly be a warning not to eat too much meat, especially because it can go bad if it is not refrigerated. Yet, my health has improved mightily since I started eating more meat and less sugar. It appears to me that these days sugar is much more unhealthy than meat. So, to summarize and perhaps answer your question: I am coming around to the opinion that there are many issues, perhaps more than most member think, where the Lord allows us freedom to make our own decisions. We are not Pharisees. The prophets offer us guidance, and we should follow it, but there will be acceptable exceptions, at least in the eyes of God.
El oso, good, thoughtful comment. I urge people to read it and think about El Oso’s points.
Hillary asks: “For those here who have called it a “test,” I’m interested in hearing more from you; answers depend on how questions are framed. Does the nature of a test in this context indicate a right or wrong answer exists with respect to getting the vaccine or not? Or does the test refer to how we continue as disciples of Christ regardless of getting vaccinated?”
Hillary, the test that matters is how we respond to a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable with guidance from the prophets. This is a bit new for me, because I have always agreed with the Brethren on hot button issues (including immigration, btw). So here I am an opponent of mask mandates and vaccine mandates, and frankly I don’t trust the rushed, experimental COVID vaccines, and yet the Brethren are telling us to be supportive of masks and the vaccines. There are nuances, but it is difficult to read this statement and not see that the Brethren are in favor of masks and vaccines, and frankly I am not. (With the caveats I mention in the OP — re-read it to understand my position better). Anyway, returning to the test: I know several people who have contacted me and said they are walking away from the Church because of the Brethren’s position. This may just be bluster on their part, but I want to make clear that that is how you fail the test. You fail the mortal test by responding angrily to a decision from Church leadership and deciding to oppose the Church. I see it as similar to the people who accused Joseph Smith of being a fallen prophet and left the Church. The ones who left and did not return lost their chance to be part of the incredible blessing that is this Church and this Gospel. So, here is how you pass the test: you either 1)immediately change your position to be in line with the Brethren or 2)you put it on the shelf mentally and return to it later while trying better to understand. I am adopting the second approach for myself. That will involve a lot of prayer and scripture study and discussion with friends and family, and it will involve going to the temple, doing my calling even better and trying to be a better husband, father and friend. So, you pass the test by continuing to be worthy while you ponder new information and how it fits into your world view. That is how I see it anyway. In the short term, I don’t plan on getting the COVID vaccine any time soon, and I will continue to be skeptical of the usefulness of masks, while wearing them in appropriate situations.
Thanks for that answer. I think there are many members who are conscientious objectors to the 1st Presidency Message who would level “righteous indignation” at this personal stance on the WoW. Setting aside that the WoW has become a commandment, and part of the TR conditions, at the roots, the WoW and the Message are the same thing: sound counsel and urging from the leadership on best health practices for you and others around you, but it’s between you and God. I would argue that one’s personal practice of following the Message has much more impact on the rest of the world than whether or not they have a cup of green tea.
Great post. Thank you! I’ve shared it with people I care about.
“… several people who have contacted me and said they are walking away from the Church because of the Brethren’s position.”
That group is one of the two groups of people I have had in mind whenever I post those links to the two “Rules and exceptions” talks from Elders Oaks and Nelson.
The other group of people I have in mind are the overly scrupulous “no exceptions” crowd, some of whom claim that the vaccine-hesitant are lacking faith.
Even Fauci admits that there are certain conditions which contra-indicate vacciination.
VAERS illustrates that there are at least _some_ who are harmed by the vaccine. And there are plenty of “pro vaccine” doctors who are giving _some_ of thier patients “don’t get vaxed” orders.
And above all, the Lord knows who would be harmed and who would be benefited by the vaccine. And the Brethren know that the Lord knows that.
Access to the Lord’s foreknowledge is available to us through the STANDARD LDS DOCTRINE of petition-prayer and personal revelation. Are both sides of this debate (among LDS) forgetting this foundational principle ?
It seems like the “overly scrupulous” (on both sides) are assuming that Pres Nelson has somehow forgotten the principle of _everyone_ seeking and receiving personal and individualized revelation. Does Pres Nelson have to spell it out every single time?
Does anyone really parse this latest first presidency statement as meaning there are absolutely no exceptions? Apparently, some do.
Everyone needs to remember that the current prophet and the next apostle in line have explicitly stated: The Brethren teach the rules, not the exceptions. That exceptions are between the individual and the Lord (personal revelation is implied there), and the individual is responsible.
My goodness. This shouldn’t be a source of so much confusion and angst. The resolution seems clear to me when you take _foundational principles_ into account. Namely: do what the prophet urges us to do, unless you receive personal specific-to-you revelation to the contrary.
If someone also wants to avoid vaccination on specific and personalized recommendation from “competent medical authority” that would also seem to be in accord with both the “Handbook of Instructions” _and_ Dr. Fauci.
I support what the Brethren have stated on all these things. And I appreciate what you’ve written.
As for those who have had Guillain Barre Syndrome (like me) I know that the mRNA vaccines are not a problem. No one who has had those vaccines has gotten GBS. I had no problem with the vaccines. We do have to avoid the J&J vaccine.
As for pregnant women, the CDC just came out and said that they should receive the vaccine, as the risks are minimal compared to the dangers for them to get sick with Covid.
Each of these issues you mention are symptoms of the real core issues: are we listening to the prophets, praying over their counsel with an open mind, seeing them as wise and inspired people, and knowing that this world and the people in it are broken – and only Christ can heal us, but it requires us to take up our crosses at times.
I love all of God’s children. I have gay friends, a transgender grandchild, etc. I love them regardless of their choices in life. Do we have natural man tendencies, sometimes ingrained in our DNA? Probably. I have no doubt that my DNA leans towards alcoholism and addiction, as it was for my grandfather and father. I know that one taste could lead me down that road. It is an important thing for me to live the Word of Wisdom, and I always am on my guard on it and other innate weaknesses.
I believe that in the resurrection, we will lose our addiction and weaknesses. At that time, we will understand all we’ve gone through in this life.
This is what it means to endure to the end. I support the prophets. I trust the medical experts, understanding that medicine is a moving target, an art, not a science.
I don’t mind people waiting on the vaccine. Some have good reasons to do so. I do have a problem with people who demand not to wear a mask in private businesses that require it. I do have a problem with those who insist the vaccines are connected with conspiracies, nanobots, or that the Covid 19 is a farce. Such ignorance and self-importance puts others at risk. We risk more variations (and yes, mutations occur, as we see with the annual flu that’s been around a century), which can be more deadly and make the current vaccines useless.
As with you, I’m against government mandates. At the same time, I sadly shake my head at many of those who refuse to vaccinate. Their choice endangers others, and risks more dangerous variants coming forth.
In D&C 82, we learn important concepts on consecration. We are to look after the interests of our neighbors, caring for their needs and wants, inasmuch as their wants are just. – Are we doing that, in this case? Or are we being selfish, claiming freedom without responsibility as the key to their personal demands.
If God were to command us to sacrifice our own child, would we obey? From the list you provided, that is exactly what God is asking of us – to give up our favorite ideological children.
I am grateful for your encouragement that people follow the Prophet and that people remain active and temple-worthy even if they disagree and feel the need to depart from that counsel. We will all at some time be required to make the choice to sustain the brethren even when we disagree with their counsel.
I also thought this sentence was excellent “The progressives who are still going to Church and keeping their covenants even though the Church is against gay marriage, against elective abortion, against government welfare and against the transgender agenda are modern-day heroes.” I think recognizing the burdens others carry and commending them for being able to bear those burdens is an underappreciated skill and a really important component of building Zion.
Longtime lurker. Thank you for the post, Geoff B. I have to admit I was taken aback by the announcement when I first read it and although I’ve relaxed somewhat upon further reading, I do still have some concerns/questions. I don’t feel comfortable raising these in person at church, so I’m hoping someone(s) on here will be kind enough to engage in a good faith dialogue with me.
It seems to overstate or generalize. “We want to do all we can to limit the spread.” Does that include keeping children locked out of schools? Does that include approval of the use of military force as they are doing in Australia? Does that include any form of lockdowns? If the rich stay home like they did last year and get everything delivered to their homes by working class people, that would certainly limit the spread.
“We urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible.” I’m really struggling with this one. Does that include urging their use in schools and locales where masks and social distancing are not mandated? As with government mandates on masks, how long will that urging last? This seems to assume masks and social distancing are effective. Worldwide data and studies show masks either don’t work or have extremely limited efficacy. The virus, especially Delta variant, is aerosolized. How do the limited benefits masks or social distancing outweigh the costs, especially for toddlers? Is social distancing even a thing anymore anywhere?
“Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.” What about for teenage boys? Their odds of anything other than a cold are essentially nil, but the risk of myocarditis is real and seems to outweigh the benefit of their getting vaxxed. What about pregnant women?
Worldwide, but especially in the U.S., we seem to be rather short on “wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders.”
Sorry for the extended rant. My and my family’s mental health has taken a beating for a year and a half. Which is one of many, many costs that the “wise and thoughtful recommendations” do not seem to take into account at all.
P.S. Please be aware that my wife and I got fully vaxxed as soon as we could and our 18 year old son did soon thereafter. Unfortunately for him, he got vaxxed so he wouldn’t have to wear a mask anymore and that benefit was taken away from him shortly thereafter. Our 14 year old son was set to get it, but hasn’t because of the information that started coming about risks to teenage boys.
The FP used the descriptor “war” twice in the statement. The descriptor is appropriate as there may be innocent people harmed in the effort to win the war. Most of us allowed our children to be vaccinated despite the risks (See CDC description of those very real risks.) A good article on the myths associated with the vaccine, including the “I’ve had COVID so I already have antibodies” is by Boston University. see https://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/myths-vs-facts-covid-19-vaccine/.
Longtime Lurker: You bring up some tough questions and I suppose there are reasonable possible objections and exceptions to every point of every council the brethren can give us. I think the 1st Pres is “teaching us” correct principles, urging us to follow them, and as the recent handbook has said, getting any vaccinations is a personal decisions. I’m sure they hope everyone will look within themselves and at their family’s situation and do what they can to protect them and their fellow man from this deadly virus. I can see you have done that with sincerity. What is dangerous and I think the Brethren would agree, are conspiracy theories, disinformation, and irrational fear. With this virus people’s self-interest in the name of personal freedom can have an effect literally on countless others. I respect people who take responsibility for their decisions to vax or mask after weighing the factors with info from credible sources, hard as it may be to determine, and with personal revelation, instead of pushing offf their decision onto the latest conspiracy theory or internet “expert.”
IDIAT, the article you linked is filled with misinformation or to put it more politely in these days of politicized science “disputed information.” Just to cite one example that is important to me: recent studies have shown that natural immunity after COVID exposure appears to last. Studies are still being carried out on people who got the virus early on, but most of them still have protection from the virus. My family got an antibody test recently from COVID exposure in November 2020, and we still have antibodies, and none of us has gotten noticeably sick from the delta variant, just FYI. So, natural immunity so far seems to last at least a year and perhaps longer. When you compare that to the constant need for vaccine boosters and the fact that the vaccine does not necessarily protect you against variants (according to the CDC), there are significant reasons to see natural immunity as a robust solution to the virus. Notice that the Church statement says, “We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.” Immunizing the population includes natural immunity, not just vaccination.
Here is a study released recently:
I am alive because of modern medicine. I am sure that I could have died several times without antibiotics. I could be dead because of prostate cancer like my brother.
So, I trust my collogues in the medical profession. They are smart and on my side all the time. So when the Brethren came out urging us to get vaccinated, I was assured that they feel the same way that I do about my health care providers. I trust them. They are smart. They are capable. And we live in an incredible age where potent vaccines can save us from a pandemic.
My wife and I were in the first wave of Covid infections a year ago March. We kept waiting to see how bad it would get. We were most fortunate not to have severe cases, although my wife has long haul covid symptoms. We felt sorrow for those who died of the disease. Out of an abundance of caution we wore masks and isolated when possible. We got vaccinated when vaccines were available because we trust the understanding of people who know much more than we do, who have advanced degrees in complicated subjects that give them that special knowledge.
I am glad I value and trust people, even the Brethren.
SVBob, I completely respect and honor your right to live you life as you see fit, including wearing masks, isolating and getting the vaccine. I hope you understand that other people may decide to live their lives differently than you do, and in a pluralistic society we must make space for these people. In addition, one of the things I have learned in life as I approach 60 years old is that many of the people with advanced degrees in complicated subjects are not necessarily interested in the best interests of everybody. They may know a lot about, for example, virology, but nothing about the best social and economic policy for society. It is sad to see these people make grand recommendations on subjects where they know nothing. When they blithely call for millions of businesses to be shut down and tens of millions of kids to isolate and/or wear masks to school, these people are NOT acting in the bests interests of everybody.
Geoff B. — the link you cite says the vaccine substantially boosts immunity to people who’ve had COVID:
“What’s more, this and other research demonstrates that vaccinating these individuals (who’ve had COVID) substantially enhances their immune response and confers strong resistance against variants of concern, including the B.1.617.2 (delta) variant.”
From the BU article:
After three to six months or so, the natural immunity begins to wane and the risk of reinfection returns. We are definitely seeing people develop reinfections. Receiving the vaccine after having COVID is like a booster effect, and therefore it’s much more effective. Studies have been done comparing those who had the disease versus those who did not, and those who got at least one shot after having COVID end up with very high levels of antibodies.
I’m not clear why you think the Boston University article was full of misinformation when the article you cite says the same thing. Seems like both article is encouraging people who’ve had COVID to get a vaccine shot, too. Obviously, if you think your immune system is good to go, that’s great.
IDIAT, I am not really interested in taking comments in that direction, so I will let you have the last word on this issue. I have written extensively on this issue, so I am sure you will see the questions you ask answered in the coming months. Take care.
Thank you, Geoff, for your thoughtful reply to my question.