Lovingkindness and the COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 has impacted our world in so many ways. I invited my intern, Chloe Wicklas, to write an article based on her work coordinating vaccine distribution through our partnership with Jackson Health System in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Over the last year, I have been repeatedly reminded of Mark 12:30-31 which says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” We have been in a season of isolation, encouraging friends, family, and loved ones to stay home to keep a rapidly spreading virus from infiltrating our homes. It has felt harder than ever to love my neighbor because I’m afraid of my neighbor! I am afraid to love and get sick. I am afraid to love and get someone sick. This fear, in addition to COVID-19, is an illness spreading across the country like no other.
We have seen over the last year many people staying home, away from their loved ones, and away from their church to stay safe. But despite social distancing, mask-wearing, and quarantining, we are watching COVID-19 cases and deaths skyrocket around the country. To date, over 545,000 people have died in the United States from this virus since March 2020. Statistically, people of color in our community with comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes, which are tied to COVID-19 complications, are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Not only are black and brown communities more likely to have these comorbidities, but they also make up a high percentage of essential workers in healthcare, postal service, warehouses, childcare, and law enforcement, which can increase the chance they are exposed to coronavirus. Though our community is at higher risk, Black and Brown Americans are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at a lower rate than their white counterparts.
In an effort to mitigate this, Trinity Church entered a partnership with Jackson Health System in December 2020 to get community members vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Since January 13, 2021, Trinity has schedule over 2,000 individual vaccine appointments with JHS. The Pfizer vaccine is clinically proven to be 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness up to 14 days after the second dose. The response from those who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine has been overwhelming, filled with gratitude and hope for a better future. One where they can hug their children and grandchildren without fear, go to doctors’ appointments with confidence, and attend their church once again.
If you or a loved one are questioning whether or not to get the vaccine, consider these things:
- You are loved,
The people who are most important in your life need you! In the US alone, millions of adults get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases each year. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can drastically lower your risk of getting seriously ill from a COVID-19 infection.
- You love others,
Your family, friends, and coworkers count on you to be safe and well. A vaccine-preventable disease that might make you uncomfortable for a week or two could prove deadly for your children, parents, and friends. Protecting yourself with the vaccine doesn’t just impact you, it can also protect those around you.
- And, we are called to love.
Mark 12:30-31 reminds us that loving God requires all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We cannot love our neighbor without loving God. We cannot love our neighbor without strengthening our mind and body. We cannot love our neighbor without loving ourselves. Getting vaccinated actively strengthens your body so that you can love God and your neighbor with all your heart, mind, and soul.
The vaccine plays an important role in achieving immunity as a community, state, country, and world. Please remain mindful, while you may have received the vaccine, someone you love, or encounter, may not. Though the vaccine decreases the likelihood of serious infection, it does not eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others. The action of loving your neighbor includes continued mask wearing and social distancing even after receiving the vaccine!
Vaccine appointments are offered through Jackson Health System and Trinity Church each week for those who are 18 and older with an underlying condition (physicians note not required) or 40 and older. If interested, please call the Trinity Church COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at (786) 361-7248.
Here is a brief video from National Geographic describing the production of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine: