By Matt Rowe

August 24, 2021

In a previous piece I wrote about our church’s crisis of leadership courage, and how we as the laity have a responsibility to demonstrate our support for the priests whom we know are morally and spiritually correct.  It takes courage of convictions for anyone to stand up to the church hierarchy when it is needed, but it also takes courage to face each other at times as well.  Let me relate a personal situation that many readers may be experiencing today.

I am not completely sold on the value of the COVID vaccines.  As a father and husband, it is my duty to protect my family, and now I find myself in between a rock and hard place regarding the very real risks of the vaccine versus the very real risks of the virus.  This is not a clear-cut choice to make—especially since information about both the virus and the vaccines has been highly politicized and inundated with misinformation.  Nonetheless, there is significant societal pressure from all sides for me to get my family vaccinated.

First, I am not an anti-vaxxer.  A vaccine is useful for diseases that anyone can get, and that cause great harm to those who do.  Think about mumps, yellow fever, polio, etc.  When a disease like COVID strikes everyone, but generally only causes great harm to a known smaller segment of the population, then the people who need a vaccine are pretty clearly identified.  The rest of us don’t need it.  This is why the flu vaccine has never been mandated in the past.  It has a significant probability of not working at all, and apparently, the resulting number of deaths associated with flu didn’t spur any governmental action as we’ve seen recently.  You can make an effective vaccine for a specific flu virus, but trying to predict mutations is problematic.  For these reasons, I don’t get the flu vaccine.

Much like my right to freely exercise my religion, I have the God-given right to decide how my body is treated, and the US Constitution guarantees “…the people to be secure in their persons…against unreasonable searches and seizures…”

How is it that my body is not violated by being forced to get a vaccine?

Today’s society has stomped all over my right to live my religious beliefs outside of my home or my church.  I can’t even mention why I believe what I do at work or school.  Yet these same institutions have no compunction against telling me what to do with my body.  Our rights as human beings are being erased a little bit at a time, and it appears that too many people are okay with that.

And just to be clear, this is not about “My body—my choice!”  If a woman is pregnant, it is no longer only her body at stake, but also that of another human being.  The government must allow me to make my own choices regarding my health first, and only get involved when there is irrefutable evidence that I cannot be trusted to do the right thing.  The COVID threat, like that of the scourge of polio, which devastated 2% of the US population a year in the 1940s, simply does not exist.  COVID has killed .02% (2-tenths of one percent) of Hoosiers—a significantly lower risk.

The virus will be with us in one form or another for the foreseeable future, and it has yet to mutate into the population killer it was originally made out to be.  Making regular vaccines for every mutation will be futile and unnecessarily expensive given that the effectiveness will always be in question.  We only have educated guesses right now on how effective the first vaccines are against any other variant that may arise.  If a more deadly variant arises and a vaccine can be made to deal with it, count me in.

Remember that as of August 22, 2021, 91% of deaths were people over 60 years old, who–94% of the time—had at least one, or as many as 3 other comorbidities (Obesity, Diabetes, Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease, kidney issues, and congestive heart failure).  Many of these people died alone because the government and even our church leaders feared spreading the disease and left them isolated.  Many died simply because they were isolated.  Young healthy people died too, but that was not the rule as the vast majority of Hoosier COIVD cases (79.3%) were under 60 years old.  Don’t forget that irresponsible overcounting of COVID as the cause of death didn’t help us make better decisions either.

Because my family did not fall into the risk groups above, and because the vaccines have not been tested over time, I advised my family to wait.  This is how it should be.  We should be given the correct information by authorities we can trust, and then we should be free to make our own decisions on how to proceed.  Finally, my body is a temple and a gift from God, and though I have struggled to care for it the way I should, I do not need to inject it with any foreign substance I am not highly confident is a good idea.

People I know have called me foolish.  In April of 2020, one colleague—an infectious disease expert no less–said I was the epitome of stupid (in so many words) when I suggested that the original virus was not killing 5% of the population (I was right).  We also already knew who our most vulnerable people were, yet many government officials, medical professionals, and media personalities seemed surprised.  In fact, collocating infected older people in nursing homes never sounded like a good idea to me, but then I am not a doctor, government official, or nursing home expert.  Where were the experts when this tragedy unfolded?

Get my point?  The “experts” are not always right.

Furthermore, the mainstream media depicted people like me as religious zealots and conspiracy theorist nutjobs, who believe the vaccine is really a mechanism to inject a secret microchip into our bodies, so they can be tracked and controlled by the New World Order government overseen by our alien overlords!

Yeah…that’ll change my mind about getting the vaccination…

In reality, I have friends and family facing termination by their employers if they do not get the vaccine.  Indiana University will make my son’s student life unbearable if he refuses the vaccine, so he is simply going to drop out. This is very serious pressure to take a risk we are not prepared to take.

Every death in the US that occurred when the victim was also diagnosed with COVID was called a COVID death.  However, any death or adverse reaction close to the time anyone gets the vaccine is not even considered suspicious.  Maybe it should be, and maybe it shouldn’t—I don’t know.  I can’t trust any government or media sources, and our church leadership has decided our corporal lives are more important than our eternal souls.  This is the crux of the issue too—who do we trust?  All we can do is pray and have faith that the right guidance will come to us.

So here I am—feeling alone in the wilderness and trying to make the best decisions I can to protect my family.  I suspect many vaccine “late adopters” feel the same.  I can’t ask the “experts” in the government.  I can’t ask my priest for any better guidance, and I’ve heard very compelling medical arguments both ways. And now we face the Delta variant.

I’ve heard it is more contagious, more dangerous, affects younger people, has longer-lasting and far-reaching negative impacts, and that the vaccine is only somewhat effective against it.  Sound familiar?  Here I am again, considering whether to advise my family to get the vaccine.

Most of the medical experts I know say we should get the vaccine, and I tend to trust them, unlike Anthony Fauci, “America’s Doctor,” who is very influential in the media even though he has knowingly misled us in the past and is completely caught up in his own fame.  If you want or need the vaccine…go get it.  If you want to wear masks, which have a less than 1% chance of protecting you—go for it.  Just don’t tell me what to do until you come with better facts and data.

In the meantime, I will pray for the right answer, because it clearly isn’t going to come from anywhere else.  For now, that’s what I am doing and I am waiting a bit longer before deciding.  I still have the responsibility to protect my family as best I can.  Unfortunately, this takes more courage regarding the vaccine than it really should.