Judaism, Science, and the COVID-19 Vaccine

February 2, 2021
David Dorfman

Yorktown, Virginia, United States

Class of 2023

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For months the world has faced the horrific pandemic known as the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Organizations and governments have worked around the clock to find ways to “stop the spread,” a term that has almost become cliché as it is used repeatedly by public figures. Quarantining, masking, and social distancing, all things people have been forced to become accustomed to, as it is the only hope of curbing the massive fatalities the world has suffered - and is still suffering today.

It is understandable that we’ve had difficulty with the daunting task of grappling with how to stop the pandemic and what to do in the midst of all this chaos. However, now we know exactly what the most important thing is and we have the means to do it. Vaccines have been thoroughly tested, approved, and regulated by multiple organizations, such as the FDA, CDC, and WHO, with a staff of physicians, epidemiologists, chemists, and so many more public health and safety professionals.

All these heroes have been working together 24/7 to oversee multiple phases of intense trials and testing to ensure a safe and effective vaccine. Now people have a choice to make. The first option is to not get vaccinated. The result of this choice is a high chance of contracting a virus that has killed millions of people, and a high chance of spreading that virus to both strangers and loved ones. On the other hand, the second option is to receive a vaccine, with which comes a 95% chance of avoiding all that misfortune. There are allergic reactions here and there, and some people may get dizzy or slightly nauseous as a side effect after receiving the vaccine. However, this is far between and highly unlikely, and definitely preferable to dying or spreading a fatal disease.

That is why it seems silly that the biggest issue we’re facing now related to the pandemic isn’t to find a way to stop it, but to get people to accept it. Even worse, this is not a new problem. The World Health Organization lists vaccine hesitancy as one of the largest threats to global public safety every year. Some believe vaccines are accompanied by a risk of illnesses and disorders such as cancer or birth defects, but that has been scientifically proven untrue time and time again. Others hesitate for a similar reason, the spread of misinformation through social media.

Still, others refuse vaccines on religious grounds. This can be seen causing detrimental effects, such as the hesitancy of Jewish residents in Brooklyn to vaccinate their children, resulting in multiple and completely avoidable deaths. “Blessed are you, Lord, healer of all flesh, who does wondrous deeds.” This is a prayer recited by millions of Jews daily. The last part of that blessing refers in part to God’s amazing act of giving all human beings the capacity to partner with Him to cure and make others well. Human beings are cooperators in divine wonders and healing the world in God’s vision. So not only does religion, or at least Judaism, not have a problem with vaccinations - it encourages it if it is for the good of the world. Therefore, it is perhaps the most essential thing we can do to help repair the world. This is just one more reason I beseech you to get you and your loved ones vaccinated as soon as you can. The sooner this happens, the sooner we can live freely once again, and more importantly, have in-person BBYO again ;)

Despite the overwhelming evidence vaccines are safe, it’s completely understandable that it can be unnerving. So here are some sources that I think do a great job of tackling this issue:

David Dorfman is an Aleph from Eastern: Virginia and is on swim team.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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