My Pandemic Prayer

A life or death decision is made more difficult because fake news prevails

A COVID vaccine soon will be available to me, as I’m nearly 79. My married brother and I recently discussed this. He is 77, has grandkids, and must business travel on commercial airplanes, so he would have to get the shot. I live like a hermit, and the only traveling I do is a half-hour of food shopping each week. Unless the state makes it a mandatory requirement before entering a supermarket, I am not forced to get the shot.

I’ve done my homework on this important issue, wondering if a required universal vaccine would be the “mark of the Beast” described in the Book of Revelation: It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark (cf. Rev. 13:15-18). Once we’re branded with the vaccine’s special mRNA marker, there’s no going back.

Then there’s the moral question of whether or not aborted-baby cell lines played a role in vaccine development. Most companies did make use of them. Since the brand being distributed locally is a variant beyond my control, what’s a Catholic to do?

Besides political coercion and religious questions, what is it about the mRNA vaccine that bothers me? Well, first off, fake news does not cultivate confidence in the statistics claimed by each company validating effective prevention of severe illness. Authoritative sources dispute Pfizer’s claim of  95% effective, saying it’s more like 19%. Second, the vaccines were hastily developed in record time. Normal development takes several years to eliminate complications from the side effects. Plus, the Big Pharma vaccine factories are legally immune to lawsuits if things go sideways. That telling detail raises my suspicions and makes me nervous. To financially protect pharmaceutical companies, their legal beagles include a panoply of all possible adverse reactions (fever, fainting, chills, muscle aches, headaches, etc.) in the usual lengthy warning list on every medication in case afflicted patients press for a class-action lawsuit.

Chinese health experts called for suspension of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine used on some elderly. Twenty-three Norwegian seniors, all over 80 years old, died shortly after vaccination. Is it just fake news that reported these vaccine reactions? Is it fake news that California called for a pause of 330,000 doses to investigate a cluster of severe allergic reactions to the Moderna vaccine (The Mercury News, Jan. 17, 2021)? Maybe, but I’m not willing to chance it.

Evaluating the information stream as best I can, and as a senior with an underlying heart condition, all the questionable risk isn’t worth it. I won’t be rolling up my sleeve to get that novel vaccine any time soon. But neither will I be partying or shopping without a mask and hand sanitizer. Each of us now faces that life or death decision, made more difficult because fake news prevails. Sadly, the media cannot be trusted.

Should I worry? I live a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise, a monastic-style, low fat, whole food, lacto-vegetarian diet, with high vitamin D3 to invigorate my immune system. In all my senior years, I have had one flu shot. It’s going to take a whole lot of scary persuasion to motivate me enough to vaccinate against any flu or this deadly novel virus.

Surely everyone quakes before the prospect of  death, and I am by no means an exception. But I’m well along in years and facing imminent death every day. I take one day at a time, thanking God for being alive when I wake every morning.

The fear of death loses its sting whenever I chant the psalms:

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23:4)

You shall not fear… the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon (Psalm 91: 5-6)

 

Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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