I’m writing not for medical advice, but regarding the confronting aspects of my decision to remain unvaccinated for COVID.
Let me start by saying that I am by no means “Anti-Vax.” I believe the speed of creation and the efficacy of the vaccines to be a technological achievement. My 73-year-old mother has ovarian cancer, and I’m very relieved that she’s vaccinated.
So my conflict isn’t with the vaccine itself, but the way in which it’s been rolled out and increasingly being mandated for participation in society. My reasons for resisting the vaccine mandates are:
1. It violates my religious and spiritual beliefs.
2. It violates my civil rights.
3. I believe the justification for vaccinating all of society is under a false pretense. The original justification for mass vaccination was to prevent the spread, however, that has been clearly disproved as countries such as Israel with high vaccination rates have also experienced high outbreaks among the vaccinated, debunking the narrative that the vaccinated are somehow safer to be around than the unvaccinated.
4. Since I’m not at high risk, if I get COVID, I’ll be able to clearly recognize the symptoms and quarantine, in contrast to the vaccinated, who are participating in society while potentially COVID-positive and asymptomatic and thus spreading the disease.
5. Since I’m not at high risk, I believe it’s more egalitarian to save those 2–3 (and maybe soon 4) shots for those at high risk in poorer countries where supply is limited.
6. With the now well-exposed knowledge that the CDC and Dr. Fauci were misleading the public on the virus origins and that they were funding gain-of-function research in the Wuhan lab, I’m no longer confident that the CDC has the public interest as their primary motivation. I find it appalling that it took a Freedom of Information Act and scrubbing of their vast emails to demonstrate the duplicity of their public narratives contradicting their private correspondence.
So despite the societal pressure and misleading data reported by the mainstream media, I’ve remained comfortable in my choice for myself and my family. My wife had long COVID and pericarditis. My whole family was exposed to COVID, and I feel that based on the Israel study, we’re safe from hospitalization from COVID based on our natural immunity lower risk cohorts. That’s our decision based on all the information we can evaluate and our personal values. And my boss is by and large supportive of my decision as I’ve been able to excel in value creation despite the remote nature of our work in the tech industry.
However, recently the tide has started to turn, not in the form of medical risk, but deprivation of societal inclusion, both professionally and personally. Some recent examples are:
1. This week I was asked to not participate in an executive forum based on my vaccination status by the conference organizer. To add insult to injury, I had a flight booked and was ready to go. While I’m permitted to join remotely, it’s not at all as effective for my business where more is accomplished in building trust over a meal or drink than during the content.
2. I will also be forced to miss another work function next month because of a New York City executive order that discriminates against unvaccinated people.
3. I received an invitation from a neighbor to come participate in a “block party,” but only if I’m vaccinated.
4. Several people within my circle of friends in the community parrot what they see on the mainstream media and demonize those of us who are not vaccinated. If the circumstance were right, I could calmly exchange understandings, but as things are, I risk further alienation. Although personally I don’t care what people think of me and I’m more interested in truth, my wife and small children don’t have thick skin like I do.
5. The pressure to mandate vaccines on children to participate in school (which we strongly oppose based on the uncertainty of long-term effects) seems to be right around the corner, but I don’t want to uproot my family and move to an unknown “red state,” since we feel a part of our community and have made many lifelong friendships that we consider to be a part of our extended family.
While I’m hopeful some of the legal challenges to these mandates will speedily succeed, bringing a calm and more inclusive climate, I don’t know if or when that will happen.
Should I choose to continue to alienate myself over my principles, or should I just take the shot because it’s the quickest path to be able to excel professionally and personally? While it’s a somewhat cynical view, I’ve learned through marriage and other experiences that you can choose to be right or you can be happy. As the Serenity Prayer goes:
“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
Part of me wants to stand in courage with those like me who resist nonsensical loss of liberty, but I accept that I’m just one guy up against a huge machine, and I have a primary responsibility to my family, community, and employer.
I’d appreciate your wisdom—as I’m struggling to know the difference.
Seeking Serenity in Connecticut
Dear Seeking Serenity,
Peace of mind comes from making moral decisions.
There is absolutely a principle in personal relationships that at times we need to forgo being “right” in a narrow sense in order to maintain the well-being of the family. But this shouldn’t mean we take immoral action.
So then the question is: Is getting vaccinated a moral decision? The answer will be different for different people. We all have different situations and understandings.
You said, “Part of me wants to stand in courage,” which is a moral question. As you’re clearly a man who cares about his family, his faith, and the well-being of society, my answer on this point is yes, please be courageous. We all need your strength and protection.
However, this is definitely not to say that getting the COVID vaccine is inherently an act of cowardice. On the contrary, some people get it because they feel this is the best thing they can to do to protect their loved ones and community, so for them, getting a vaccine might be an act of bravery.
As I’ve said before, we’re in the midst of a cultural revolution, and I think those who are aware have an obligation to stand against it—there’s a tremendous amount on the line. However, there are many battlefronts, so each of us needs to choose where and how we’re going to resist. This decision is between you, your conscience, and a higher power. For some people, their battle might be to reunite estranged family or befriend a neighbor with a different point of view. Truth and compassion are our best weapons.
Perhaps the COVID-19 vaccines are the issue you are being asked to stand up against?
I do think at some point the mandate tide will turn, but I have no idea how long this will take.
Earlier this year, I was asked about vaccine mandates, and at the time I believed we could have a rational discussion about the COVID-19 vaccine mandates given that they then were not even FDA-approved. I was wrong. Despite the fact that we still don’t know anything about the long-term effects of these vaccines, some places even seem to be gearing up to mandate them for children.
And this is where I would definitely draw a moral line. Our children have their whole lives in front of them, and assuming they’re healthy, they’re not at great risk of death from COVID-19. I think it’s unconscionable to give them medical treatment the effects of which we don’t know.
I would start paying attention to school board decisions and join or even organize a parent group that will stand up against the issue.
And pay attention to state laws. Washington D.C. passed a law last year allowing children as young as 11 to be vaccinated even without the consent or knowledge of their parents, and in 2019, New York state took away the religious exemption for schoolchildren after an outbreak of measles in some Orthodox Jewish communities.
You brought up the issue of protection—certainly a big concern and responsibility for a father—so I’d like to offer a few thoughts.
You have a primary responsibility to protect, lead, and teach your children. As you mentioned, besides protecting them from the vaccine, you also have to be concerned about providing for them materially and keeping nasty comments from affecting them psychologically. I believe that your staying strong in your beliefs—especially your faith—will offer them the best protection possible.
This is why:
Psychological protection: Imagine you’re with your family and someone starts off on you for not vaccinating. Your kids will be scared, but you respond calmly, kindly, and firmly. You deescalate the situation or, if that’s not possible, you lead your kids away. After this, your children will see you with new respect. They will understand clearly that you’re able to protect them, and this will give them immense comfort.
Of course the nasty comments may also come when you’re not around, but probably your children will bring the issue to you later and you can help guide them then.
Material protection: You’re also concerned about protecting them from material hardship, and thus about loss of job opportunities if you remain unvaccinated. You’re not alone in being caught between a vaccine and a job. In recent months, we’ve started seeing reports of health care systems facing shortages of workers because a significant number of medical professionals don’t want to get the vaccine themselves. The CDC director recently said that medical staff shortages are becoming a challenge around the country.
It’s great that your boss supports your decision, but as you mentioned, you need to be concerned with the value you provide your company. It may not be possible to quantify just how much loss your not being vaccinated will incur, but could you perhaps take a proactive approach and try to up your game, work a bit extra, maybe see if you can be better prepared for the meetings that you’ll join remotely? Maybe you could also talk to your boss to see if there are any ways you can support more on the back end, maybe help mentor new employees.
Remaining unvaccinated will likely require sacrifice. However, this may be a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the beauty and necessity of sacrifice. It’s an antidote to decadence and thus an important safeguard for kids today who live in a world of great material abundance, which can put them at great risk of spiritual poverty.
I don’t mean to suggest that you go to an extreme and force your family to face destitution, but it might very well be worth sacrificing expensive Christmas gifts or having a staycation next year instead of traveling in order to give your children an example of the mindset needed to remain true to what’s right. Learning to sacrifice will strengthen their character, which will surely protect them from many ills in life.
You’re already a good person by sticking to your beliefs and acting with courage during this challenging time—you can perhaps become an even greater person, a man that other people know they can trust and respect.
And you may not even know you’ve inspired others. For example, when you’re asked to join a business event remotely, which I completely understand is not ideal, but the reason you’re calling in is probably pretty clear to those at the event. In this current climate, some people may think you’re an idiot—but I would guess that others will think to themselves, “Wow, he’s brave.”
I see the push to mandate COVID-19 vaccines as akin to the current of a great flood—many people are unwillingly being caught up. Every person who resists the current is like a tree with deep roots, standing still and strong amid the rushing waters. Each tree offers a small spot of protection for others who may cling to the trunk, climb it, or stand on the downstream side where the current isn’t strong. I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of this.
And, by the way, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you and I are both anti-vaxxers. Their revised definition now reads: “a person who opposes vaccination or laws that mandate vaccination.” So we’d better get used to wearing the epithet, which clearly means nothing now. I don’t mind, as in a revolution, the issue is never the issue.
And ultimately, the only protection we have is divine protection. So again, this is why I think the best course of action is the one that satisfies our conscience.
Do you have a family or relationship question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Send it to DearJune@EpochTimes.com or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 5 Penn Plaza, 8th Fl. New York, NY, 10001
June Kellum is a married mother of three and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.