A congregation of the United Church of Canada
January 12, 2022
My arm is sore. It’s because my wife and I got our Covid booster jabs yesterday. We’re both feeling a bit of discomfort, but of course nothing like we’d feel if we were laid out with Covid. And that’s the whole point. It’s mind-boggling to me that some people don’t get it yet. These vaccinations are not the kind that prevent every recipient from contracting the virus. They never were meant to be. They’ve always been about limiting risk. And as of yesterday the risks of my family being devastated by Covid have once again been vastly lowered.
There’s been some confusion about why so many of the people who are in hospital with Covid have been vaccinated. It’s simple math. The last (reliable) numbers I saw said hospitalizations were about 60% unvaxxed and 40% vaxxed. Why so many? Because so many have been vaxxed, and the spread of Omicron has been so widespread, that it would eventually reach more vulnerable people (vaxxed or not) because it’s reaching so many more people! But think about it. If around 85% of us have been vaxxed that means only 15% or so have not been – yet that very small group makes up the vast majority of hospitalizations, ICU beds, and deaths. The math is pretty simple, actually – and it more than makes the case for suffering through a sore arm.
But here’s the thing – and why the thing is a spiritual thing. This is going to keep happening with wave after wave because the virus will continue to mutate as it finds groups of people with no vaccinations to mitigate the spread. Even if we managed to get 100% of Canadians and North Americans double or triple vaccinated it will still continue to mutate. Why? Because large populations of people in economically disadvantaged places/countries remain unvaxxed. In those places the virus can continue to swirl and mutate – and because our world is so interconnected what happens in one corner spreads quickly to all corners. So, like so many things in this life, it comes down to a justice issue of economic inequality. We have the vax – they don’t. So, we must protect ourselves against ‘them’ – right? Hmm.
Here’s a thought – let’s love them instead. We say we’re about loving our neighbours – and treating everyone as sacred. Maybe it’s actually in our own best interest to reach out and actually treat every life as sacred – to help everyone get vaccinated – to not only save their lives but save our own. This is the Season of Epiphany, so let me lay one on you! We are in a pandemic – that means it’s everywhere – and that means until it’s addressed everywhere it will stay everywhere. I know, I’m supposed to be the silver lining guy. Well, today I’m the stark reality guy. Even without the spiritually idealistic ‘we should love everybody’ thing, how about even this? I’d like to get back to living my life in more open and interactive ways. I can’t do that until vaccinations happen everywhere. So I guess the question is…how big is our table really?
(If you would like to donate to a United Church vaccination program with matching government funding and a partnership with Unicef, click this Pay It Forward link.)