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When it comes to vaccines - why are people talking about 'The work of God' ?

Vaccinations defile or adulterate the human body, which was created in God’s image

No major faith explicitly opposes vaccinations. On the contrary, all major faiths in the U.K. have urged their followers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nonetheless, several concerns about vaccinations have been identified that arise from religious considerations. These concerns can be divided into four groups.

  • Violations of dietary norms, such as blood components and pharmaceutical excipients of porcine or bovine origin.
  • Violations of religious codes of purity, such as cell lines with foetal origins or HPV vaccinations protecting against a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Defence of the natural order by letting events take their course, which is often reflected in rejection of interference with divine providence.
  • Religious alternatives to vaccination, such as faith or prayer to fight diseases.

Although religiosity is not consistently associated with higher vaccine hesitancy when conducting international comparisons, there is tentative evidence that vaccine hesitancy is greater among the religious in an American sample. Vaccination rates are also particularly low among some fundamentalist religious communities around the world.

This theme highlights the mental and physical connections with health and claims that getting vaccinated would ‘sin’ and defile the body. This is often a spiritual argument that may or may not include a religious component.

Is there any truth in it?

People’s spirituality and religious convictions must be respected.  It is understandable that people worry about the compatibility between vaccinations and a desire to keep their bodies clean and healthy. Everyone wants their decisions to be consistent with their deepest beliefs and values.

What could I say To someone fixed on this belief?

Dialogue between patients and healthcare professionals is most productive if it is guided by empathy, and an opportunity for the patient to affirm the reasons underlying their attitudes and to express understanding for that. That’s why it is important to understand the attitude roots behind people’s overt opinions. To affirm a person’s underlying attitude root does not mean we need to agree with the specifics of their argument. For example, we can acknowledge that:

People’s spirituality and religious convictions must be respected.  It is understandable that people worry about the compatibility between vaccinations and a desire to keep their bodies clean and healthy. Everyone wants their decisions to be consistent with their deepest beliefs and values.



Having set the stage through this (partial) affirmation, we can then proceed to correct the patient’s particular misconception.

Think about all the changes you make to your body to protect and improve your life, such as wearing glasses or undergoing surgery. We would not say that these things defile or adulterate our body.

Infections are caused by pathogens or ‘bugs’ that invade our bodies and can make us seriously ill. For example, viruses can interfere with our own cells’ normal functioning. Pathogenic viruses use our own cells to replicate themselves inside our bodies.

Vaccines help to counter these infections by helping our body’s natural immunity recognise and fight off disease-causing pathogens.