Reflection on COVID-19, Part III – 13 January 2021, by Rev Craig Morrison

Good morning, Saints,
Here is part 3 of my extended epistle for January.
Folks, for some of us, the very word “vaccination” is terrifying. Most of us don’t like needles at all! I vividly remember having immunisation jabs that scared me for life. Perhaps there’s some latent primal fear of puncturing the skin.

I think it prudent to remind us of our history. So, briefly:

The first vaccine created in a laboratory was Louis Pasteur’s 1879 vaccine for chicken (avian) cholera. Pasteur, building on the work of Jenner, later also made vaccines for rabies and anthrax.

In 1905, Swedish physician Ivar Wickman suggested that that poliomyelitis was a contagious disease that could be spread from person to person. A polio vaccine was only created in 1953.

In the 1950s, Dr Jonas Salk invented IPV, or inactivated polio virus, that became the basis of global poliomyelitis vaccine. I remember lining up in my first year of school in Sub A class to get my vaccination group. Perhaps this new generation has forgotten the scourge of childhood polio because mass vaccination effectively eradicated polio.

In the 60s, Dr. Thomas Peebles collected blood from sick students at a private school outside of Boston in an attempt to isolate the measles virus. Eventually he succeeded, and the collected virus would be isolated and used to create a series of vaccines. A measles vaccine was finalised in 1963, and today is administered together with mumps and rubella vaccines (MMRv).

Chickenpox is an illness caused by the Varicella zoster virus. It was once an almost universal childhood illness. It is much less common now owing to mass vaccination.

We know that an HPV vaccination administered to young women can protect them from cervical cancer later in life. It is now compulsory for medical students.

My dog gets a rabies vaccination and annual booster. My family and my pets and my neighbours are kept safe by this inoculation.

What I mean to show by this very brief history tour is that mass immunisation campaigns work.
Ironically they are so effective we no longer fear these serious childhood diseases that have caused so much trauma to parents and children alike. On the internet, vaccinations can often be made out to be evil.

However, if we just look at the history of it, we can see the benefits. We have over twenty (20) vaccinations available to protect us from serious diseases, and where they have been widely meted out we have effectively eradicated them.

Some years ago I did work in Kenya. The Kenyan government told me I had to have a Yellow Fever vaccination before I could enter. I didn’t think twice, because many inoculations are routine. They are also compulsory for travellers. The hullabaloo about compulsory vaccination is therefore misplaced. It is not something new. I wrote this post last week, but our President is absolutely correct: vaccination is not some new threat we face.

One wonders about the conspiracy theories that are blind to these advances and to the reality of compulsory vaccination and to the eradication of serious, harmful and life-threatening diseases. It is hugely concerning that senior state officials like the Chief Justice have made unfortunate statements. I wrote a rebuttal of his December comments and subsequent double-down, if anyone is interested in the role of faith in public policy I can email it to you.

The history of vaccinations and mass immunisation campaigns shows us that a jab is effective in eradicating serious diseases, saves lives, and there is no dark conspiracy behind them. (True, I am wary of the enormous profits made by Big Pharma and the unequal distribution of vaccines. I am not uncritical of pharma corporations but these are different issues from the scientific ones.)

One matter emerges as a new concern: unregistered (therefore illegal) drugs like Ivermectin and unproven drugs like Chloroquine may find a black market distribution in SA. Of course, never buy drugs online or outside of legal regulations. Antiviral drugs may have side-effects and if self-medicated the dosages may be all wrong. And beware of anyone peddling a “miracle cure”.

Also remember that SARS COV-2 is a real virus, meaning that home remedies like “gargling with warm lemon juice” or lavender tinctures are fake treatments. Use real and legally approved medicines if you become sick. Real oncologists don’t send their friends treatment information on WhatsApp. Neither should anyone forward SARS COV-2 treatment info on WhatsApp. Don’t do that. Social media are not appropriate fora for medical treatment info.
You can find more info about vaccination here.

Stay safe, folks!

Published by St. Columba's Presbyterian Church Hatfield

St Columba's Presbyterian Church in Hatfield, Pretoria, South Africa is a Christian Church. Our vision is to be a Christ-centred, bible-believing church that calls all to come and experience the love of Christ, in a welcoming and caring body of believers.

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