Stop Christian vaccine shaming

Christian vaccine shaming is fashionable these days, but unbecoming. It is true that there is no greater love than laying down one’s life for another. But loving your neighbor does not mean micromanaging his medical choices.

It is increasingly difficult to take unelected public health officials at face value when their recommendations and mandates change constantly. For starters, the definition of a vaccine was recently changed to include mRNA technology — which the current COVID shots are — as a vaccine. The science behind these shots does not meet the classic definition of a vaccine.

Moreover, the definition of what it means to be vaxxed constantly changes. Is someone fully vaxxed if he has: a) two shots; b) two shots plus booster; or, c) one shot plus booster? And what about the gold standard of acquired natural immunity from prior infection? The dominant Omicron variant may have a greater rate of transmission and infection, but has a very low rate of significant morbidity and mortality, for both “vaxxed” and “unvaxxed.” These implications matter when making broad-based rules but are glossed over in favor of polarizing rhetoric. There’s nothing wrong with updating science as more research is done, but it’s unscrupulous to pretend the official line has never changed and assume those pointing it out have nefarious motives.

There also was sleight of hand in promoting COVID shots. The initial Pfizer trial (from the New England Journal of Medicine) showed a 99.12% chance of not contracting COVID in the unvaxxed control group, and a 99.96% chance in the COVID vaxxed group. This relative risk reduction of 95% was sold as a raving success, despite the absolute risk reduction — typically the standard measure — being 0.84%. Pfizer and the FDA knew nobody would clamor for a shot for less than 1% reduction in infection. Moreover, the study’s control group was abruptly eliminated two months into a three-year study. Surely in other contexts this would be seen as misleading.

Moreover, it’s inconsistent to shame other Christians into the COVID shot, but ignore major public health challenges like obesity and smoking. Both kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, and put individuals at higher risk of COVID complications.

Each family and individual should prayerfully consider encouraging others to make the best choices for themselves and their families, in concert with their medical providers, with a transparent truthfulness to science.

Dr. S.A. Puckett