COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs2021-10-12T20:51:32-04:00

Frequently Asked Questions

The issues surrounding COVID-19 vaccines are broad and also deep and complex.  Many of you have shared your questions with us, which we have presented to various experienced educators, theologians, researchers, and scientists.  We continue to learn more about COVID-19 on a daily basis, so these are provided as a starting point to continue learning.  The Seventh-day Adventist Church embraces a wholistic approach to understanding these issues, as noted in our Values.

Antibody Enhancement and Vaccine Enhanced Diseases2021-10-11T12:36:54-04:00
Q:  Please discuss concerns with antibody enhancement and vaccine enhanced diseases with the COVID vaccine.

The aim of any vaccine is for the body to make antibodies that neutralize the virus before it has a chance to get into the cells of the body.  It is possible for the body to make antibodies that, instead of neutralizing the invader, enable the virus to enter the cells at an increased rate and, therefore, increase disease potential.  This can happen with vaccines and viruses.  Vaccine makers were very conscious of this possibility when they set out to make the vaccine and, as a result, made sure that the protein that would be made in the body from the vaccine was of a particular shape so as not to produce antibody dependent enhancement (ADE).  There has been no evidence that antibody enhancement is occurring with the current round of vaccines and SARS-CoV-2.  If ADE were occurring, you would see worse disease in those vaccinated compared to those not vaccinated.  In reality were are seeing the opposite.  Currently, in the US greater than 90% of the severe cases of COVID-19 being admitted to the ICU are patients who have not received the vaccine.

Response by Roger Seheult, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Allied Health at Loma Linda University

Autoimmune Disease2021-10-12T13:24:29-04:00
Q: Why were people with autoimmune health issues told that they should not get the vaccine in the trials?

That is how clinical trials are set up. After the early phases of testing, they include those with other serious health issues. The first clinical trials have exclusion criteria that are meant to protect the vulnerable, including those with immune compromise or immune suppression treatment, those with autoimmune disease, history of anaphylaxis or angioedema, pregnancy, lactation, cancer, serious psychiatric illness, bleeding disorders, chronic respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, severe obesity, alcohol abuse, and injection drug users. After the initial phase 1 and 2 trials are complete establishing safety, the exclusion criteria become less restrictive in phase 3. Now hundreds of millions have received the vaccines with extensive reporting systems. The vaccines have been found to be safe for all groups.

Response by Jeffrey Kuhlman, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Quality and Safety Officer, AdventHealth

Bat DNA & Microchips2021-10-11T13:09:26-04:00
Q: Does the spike protein contain bat DNA?  What proof do we have that they do not contain a microchip?

The spike protein is made of protein and there is no DNA. There are no bat-derived ingredients in any of the vaccines. See response to question on “mRNA Technology” for more information on DNA, RNA, and proteins.

There is no technology to make microchips smaller than a grain of rice, hence it would be impossible to put a microchip into a vaccine vial or needle.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

Breakthrough Infections2021-10-12T13:33:35-04:00
Q: Can you explain breakthrough infections.  If you’re going to get COVID anyway, why get the vaccine?

Breakthrough infections are when an already vaccinated person gets infected. This is expected to occur with any vaccination program since no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection. Most of these cases are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms only, and are rarely sick enough to need hospitalization. So it is still valuable to receive the vaccine to prevent severe illness and death.  We are continuing to learn more about who may be at higher risk of experiencing a breakthrough infection.

Response by Richard Hart, MD, MPH, President and CEO, Loma Linda University

Efficacy & Safety of mRNA Model2021-10-11T13:18:26-04:00
Q:  All three vaccines available in the United States rely on our own cells to translate mRNA strands into the spike protein structures. How common is it for vaccines to employ our own cells to construct antigens?

This is incorrect. Only two of the three currently EUA approved vaccines use the mRNA technology. The third vaccine is a nanoparticle vaccine.The Covid vaccines are the first set of mRNA vaccines to be EUA approved. Prior mRNA vaccines were developed for other emerging infections (zika and ebola) but were not advanced to the late development stage because there was not the public health urgency of a pandemic.

Q: Are you concerned about increased autoimmune risk from this vaccine model?

No evidence of autoimmunity has been observed after hundreds of millions of doses have been administered.

Q: Are you concerned about decreased efficacy from this vaccine model?

All vaccines, no matter which type of technology is being used, have the risk of decreased efficacy over time. The “older” technologies for vaccines such as the Chinese killed whole virus vaccines (based on the decades old way of making vaccines) has lower efficacy than the mRNA and virus-vectored vaccines being used in the U.S.  We have now observed >6 months of very good efficacy with the mRNA and virus-vectored vaccines.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

Efficacy of One Shot2021-10-12T12:47:16-04:00
Q: Please explain how the Jansen (J&J) vaccine is effective when it is one shot, not two.

The J&J vaccine was studied as a single dose vaccine and a 2-dose vaccine; the 2-dose study (called ENSEMBLE-2) is still being performed, but is anticipated to definitively demonstrate improved efficacy compared to the single dose. Nonetheless, the single dose J&J is very good at preventing hospitalization and deaths. The Astra Zeneca vaccine (a 2-dose vaccine) and J&J vaccine are both very similar to each other and use the virus-vector approach to make the vaccine.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

Full Disclosure of Risks2021-10-11T12:47:20-04:00
Q: Why is there no full disclosure of any potential risk? And why are the blood clots being brushed aside rather than given a fair examination by the media and medical “experts”?

When taking the COVID-19 vaccine, many distributing organizations have recipients signs disclosure before getting the vaccine.  A summary of these can be found here.[1]  There have been issues specifically with the Johnson & Johnson (Jannsen) COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots.  These were not brushed aside but rather paused the vaccine campaign for almost two weeks in April 2021.  After an investigation of the 6 cases (out of 6.8 million doses given by that point), it was determined that the vaccine was safe to continue.  Realize, that, according to data, the incidence of blood clots in COVID-19 in the ICU approaches 20% and so giving the vaccine might actually lower the risk of blood clots in a population.  Here is a great graphic demonstrating the number of events per 100,000 for both the Pfizer vaccine and SARS-CoV-2.[2]

Response by Roger Seheult, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Allied Health at Loma Linda University

HIPAA Regulations2021-10-12T14:38:12-04:00
Q: Can my employer or the school I attend request my vaccination status? Is that a violation of my rights? What about HIPAA?

HIPAA applies to covered entities, meaning healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and their business associates. If an employer is not considered a covered entity HIPAA rules do not apply and it is not a HIPAA violation for employers to request vaccination status of their employees.[1] According to guidance from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can request vaccination status from their employees, but must keep the information confidential.[2] Schools also have the right to request vaccination status and historically have required student immunization records. These records are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).[3]

Impact of Funding2021-10-11T13:02:08-04:00
Q: How did funding affect the development process and timeline?

The vast up-front federal funding was one of the major factors which allowed us to be able to develop COVID-19 vaccines in such a remarkably short time. Normally, limited funding is made available to advance a vaccine through small steps in development and this timeline typically is 10-20 years long to go through each of these steps. The other major factor in facilitating the remarkably short timeline was the many decades of scientific investment already conducted in the vaccine technologies (mRNA, virus-vectoring, nanoparticles, and others) which allowed us to make these vaccines rapidly.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

Long-term Effects2021-10-12T13:28:36-04:00
Q: What can be said about long-term effects of the vaccine that may take years to discover?

The potential long-term effects of vaccination will be monitored and released as time goes on, and it’s useful to compare what we do now know about the effects of disease.  The short term effects of COVID are most have one to two weeks of illness, about 10% need hospitalization effects of COVID are most have one to two weeks of illness, about 10% need hospitalization and 1.5 to 2.5% die. We are still learning about the long-term effects of a COVID infection. Immunization prevents severe illness from COVID in the vast majority of patients.

Response by Jeffrey Kuhlman, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Quality and Safety Officer, AdventHealth

mRNA Technology2021-10-11T12:58:49-04:00
Q: What is mRNA vaccine technology and what is the history of use in vaccines?

The body uses three major steps to make all the proteins in our bodies: (1) the body’s DNA contains the genetic code for all the proteins of the body; (2) mRNA translates the DNA genetic code for each specific protein; and (3) ribosomes stitch together the string of amino acids making up each specific protein. Therefore, mRNA is the intermediate step in making proteins for the body. The mRNA does not interfere with the body’s genes and will not cause any problems with infertility.

Using scientific technology, the earliest mRNA-based vaccines and therapies were initially tested in the early 1990s, and were directed against cancer and infectious diseases such as HIV, smallpox, influenza, and hepatitis. More recently, mRNA vaccines were being developed in an attempt to solve some of the emerging infectious diseases, such as Zika and Ebola.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

NAD Position on Requests for Religious Exemptions2021-10-12T21:05:07-04:00
North American Division Position on Requests for Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Requirements
Voted recommendations to NAD Administration regarding requests for religious exemptions to vaccine requirements:

The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) is committed to sharing hope and wholeness through the healing ministry of Christ by promoting the Church’s historic health message. This includes caring for our own bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19,20) and ministering to the health of others within our community (Isaiah 58).

In line with this commitment, the NAD fully supports the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s statement encouraging “responsible immunization/vaccination,” and as such has “no religious or faith-based reason not to encourage [its] adherents to responsibly participate in protective and preventive immunization programs.”

While the Church’s statement recognizes it is “not the conscience of the individual church member, and recognize[s] individual choices,” the choice not to be vaccinated is not based on Seventh-day Adventist Church teachings or doctrine. For this reason, the Adventist church in North America does not provide Church-endorsed vaccine exemption request letters.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church respects convictions of conscience. While the NAD cannot endorse that vaccine refusal represents Adventist teachings, your local Union Public Affairs and Religious Liberty ministry is available to advise you in writing your own letter if you choose to pursue an individual vaccine exemption.

Nanoparticle Safety2021-10-11T13:00:06-04:00
Q: How safe are the nanoparticles used in the vaccine?

Nanoparticles are vaccines which are created through assembly on a nano-size scale, to mimic a virus structure (virus-like particle) or be encased in a protective micro-bubble of fats (liposome). Nanoparticle vaccines should be just as safe as standard “naked” protein vaccines, but are designed to give better immune responses.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

Protection Against Variants2021-10-12T13:05:05-04:00
Q: Does the vaccine protect against all variants?

The vaccines which are based on the “original” SARS-CoV-2 virus have continued to be successful in protecting against variant viruses because the variant viruses are still “similar enough” that the body’s immune response is able to recognize the viral threat. However, as newer (and more different looking) variant viruses arise, then we would expect the vaccines to protect less, as the immune system will not be able to recognize the viruses as well.

Q: The variants seem to be constantly changing into newer variants or strains and the vaccine has not been approved by FDA. With these concerns in mind, would you honestly still say it’s better to get the vaccine?

The vaccines are proving very effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19. It continues to provide protection against the various variants emerging. Over 90% of those now being hospitalized due to COVID-19 have not received the vaccine, demonstrating increased vulnerability among the unvaccinated.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

and

Richard Hart, MD, MPH, President and CEO, Loma Linda University

Religious Beliefs2021-10-12T14:36:57-04:00
Q: What are the employment rights of someone who refuses to get a vaccine? What is a religious accommodation and what is the legal definition of “my religious beliefs”? Can an individual define that or is it limited to church teaching or doctrine?

Generally speaking, an employer can require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to certain restrictions in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Employees who have a sincerely held religious belief objecting to being vaccinated are entitled to ask for a reasonable accommodation from their employer. Title VII protects individual beliefs, not just those that are held by any a denomination or church. Thus, employers cannot restrict religious accommodations to employees who belong to a particular faith or religion.

Further, it is not the role of the employer to determine whether that belief is true or not, only its sincerity. Therefore, an employee who asserts a religious objection that is a member of a faith that does not share that objection may still be entitled to an accommodation.

An employer’s duty to offer a religious accommodation involves a fact intensive inquiry that considers the employee’s work responsibilities, available accommodations, and the nature of the employer’s business. For instance, a hospital may have a more difficult time granting an exemption to its nursing staff than a tech company to its software development team.

Under current law,[1] religious exemption requests requiring anything more than a minimal cost or burden on the employer can be denied. While in many circumstances an employer may be able to accommodate, in others it may not.

Response by Todd McFarland, Esq., Office of General Counsel, Associate Counsel, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

References
  1. Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison, US Supreme Court (1977). https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/432/63.html
  2. The EEOC has given guidance on this issue that can be found here: https://www.eeoc.gov/coronavirus.
Symptoms Mean Vaccine is Harmful2021-10-11T12:34:52-04:00
Q:  If the vaccines causes symptoms, doesn’t that mean it is harming the body?

The purpose of the vaccine is to allow the immune system advanced sampling of the proteins of the virus so that antibodies and other immune cells can be prepared for when the real virus infects the body and it can quickly neutralize it.  The immune system uses chemical messages to signal to cells that are part of this system to reproduce and make the necessary antibodies.  These messengers, such as interferon, can make you feel like you have the flu.  Fortunately, this does not last long and usually goes completely away after a few days.  It is not harming the body.

Response by Roger Seheult, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Allied Health at Loma Linda University

Testing In Animals First2021-10-11T13:18:53-04:00
Q: I have heard that vaccines are frequently tested on animals first and this one wasn’t. Can you address that?

The early development of each vaccine involved testing in animals. The mRNA vaccines were tested in animals while trying to create solutions for zika, ebola, influenza, HIV, and many other infectious diseases. The great advantage of the mRNA vaccines is that when a “new” threat is identified then we simply need to have the genetic code to be able to make the mRNA vaccine. This technology has been built over decades of testing in the lab, in animals, and in early phase human studies.

See response to question on “mRNA Technology” for more information.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

Thrombosis2021-10-12T13:13:36-04:00
Q: What are the symptoms of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) following Janssen COVID-19 vaccine?

A rare adverse event has been reported through the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) has been reported after viral vector vaccines (J&J and Astra-Zeneca). Symptoms for CVST and blood clots include severe headache, blurry vision, shortness of breath, fainting, loss of consciousness, and weakness. The incidence of CVST or thrombocytopenia following vaccination is much less than from a COVID infection, birth control pills, smoking, or heparin therapy.

Response by Jeffrey Kuhlman, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Quality and Safety Officer, AdventHealth

Transmitting the Virus After Vaccination2021-10-11T12:30:05-04:00
Q: Is it still possible to transmit the virus to others after you are vaccinated? And if so, does one need to still wear a mask? I have heard both opinions on this topic.

Initially, the vaccines were given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) based on their efficacy at preventing disease (COVID-19) in the recipients of the vaccine.  Studies later showed that they were also effective at reducing transmission and preventing infection in others with 91% efficacy.  These studies were performed before the emergence of the delta variant and also early after initial vaccines doses were administered.  Because of the emergence of the delta variant and also perhaps because of additional time passing, current studies place the efficacy of the vaccine to prevent spread of infection at 66%.  So it is possible to transmit the virus to others after you are vaccinated but it is less likely than not being vaccinated.  Because we seldom depend on only one intervention in public health, it would be wise to follow current recommendations with regards to wearing masks even if you are vaccinated. [1]

Response by Roger Seheult, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Allied Health at Loma Linda University

Use of Hydrotherapy2021-10-11T12:39:23-04:00
Q: Has anyone treated Covid-19 with hydrotherapy?

Yes!  While there has not yet been a randomized controlled study looking at the efficacy of hydrotherapy in the outpatient and inpatient setting, I know of several centers that are employing hydrotherapy and studying its effects.  There is good reason to believe that such an intervention could work but again nothing is 100% effective.  When employed for the influenza pandemic in 1918 at Adventist Sanitariums in the Northeast, it was more effective when started early and did not work in 100% of the cases.  Here are some references with regard to hydrotherapy.[1, 2, 3]

Response by Roger Seheult, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Allied Health at Loma Linda University

Vaccine “Shedding”2021-10-11T12:33:07-04:00
Q: Can you address thoughts that the vaccine recipient “sheds” up to 3 weeks after inoculation and puts non vaccinated people at risk for being sterile?

A recent study out of the Netherlands looked at the characteristics of breakthrough delta SARS-CoV-2 infections in health care workers. They found that vaccine breakthrough infections do occur, but that infectious viral shedding is actually reduced in these cases.[1]

In terms of the vaccine causing sterility, there is no evidence that vaccine recipients are at increased risk of sterility or perinatal complications. Multiple studies have evaluated this and have found no impact.[2] Pregnancy was an exclusion criteria for enrollment in the phase III trials for the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen trials. However, several subjects became pregnant after the trial began. When looking at these subjects, there was no difference between the placebo and vaccine arms of any of the vaccine companies’ trials with regard to pregnancies or miscarriage rates. If one needs more information regarding this topic of pregnancy and the vaccine I highly encourage this living document that is updating on the current data.[3]

Response by Roger Seheult, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Allied Health at Loma Linda University

Vaccine Ingredients2021-10-11T13:04:07-04:00
Q: What are the ingredients in the vaccine, are they all safe or can they create other symptoms? Why don’t they tell us what is in the vaccine?

The ingredients in all of the FDA reviewed Covid vaccines (as well as any vaccine or drug that is reviewed by the FDA) is made known in the FDA application, there are no hidden ingredients and there is no mystery. However, the specific manufacture process (think like the recipe of a special dish) is not disclosed to the public because these are protected and proprietary intellectual property (like the recipes of many popular foods). The ingredients in all the current FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines have been found to be safe, especially as hundreds of millions of people have received these vaccines safely.

Response by E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, UM Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor, Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine

and

Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, FACP, FISDA, Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicinem Chief, Adult Clinical Studies section, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), Director, UMB Travel Medicine Practice

Vaccine Mandates2021-10-12T14:39:43-04:00
Q: What are some of the legal, ethical, and moral issues related to government or employer vaccine mandates?

The question of vaccine mandates is not a new one in the United States. In fact, it’s something that has been considered by the government and its court system for more than 100 years.  As early as 1905, the US Supreme Court ruled that local governments could require vaccination of its citizens.[1]  A few years later, the Court ruled that Supreme Court says states can prohibit unvaccinated students from attending school.[2]  While these are relatively old cases, the Court has re-affirmed the basic validity of them a number of times since then, most recently in the 1990s.[3]

Given the development of the law since World War II and the importance of informed consent in medical treatment, it is highly unlikely that the Court would allow compulsory vaccinations of all citizens.  Lower courts, however, have frequently upheld the requirement of vaccinations for access to various public services and employment opportunities.  It is very likely the courts will come to the same results for use of public transportation, airlines, and attendance at public events.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently ruled that private employers may condition employment on vaccination status, and federal courts so far have agreed with that point of view.[4, 5, 6]  Under federal disability and religious non-discrimination statutes, employers do have an obligation to consider medical and religious exemption requests, and consider alternate accommodations that can preserve safety in the workplace, such as the wearing of masks in the presence of others and regular Covid testing.  Such accommodations will probably not be justified for positions that involve frequent contact with the public, especially health care positions that serve individuals with weakened physical conditions or compromised immune systems.

The question of the moral and ethical framework of required vaccines may be a little more complicated and nuanced than the legal landscape.  Many Adventists and Christians bristle at the notion of the imposition or mandate of physical treatments or limitations on people who are not yet sick.  Some believe that rights of conscience and religious freedom should be raised in opposition to required vaccinations, whether by employer or by government.  It is not unreasonable to seek accommodation from employers where possible if masking and distancing and testing can keep others safe.  But where this is not reasonably possible, it is not fair or right to expose others to physical threats because of your reservations about the vaccine.

Neither Adventist nor Protestants more generally have believed that religious freedom is an absolute right.  Religious freedom is not exempt from the limits on rights generally –that your rights end where your neighbor’s physical health, safety, or well-being begins.  This principle has its roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ and Paul, who both wrote about the importance of love for one’s neighbors,[7] which is specifically connected to doing them no “wrong” or “harm.”[8]  When Christ sent the healed lepers to be declared clean by the priests, he endorsed the quarantine system that the Jews had inherited from Old Testament law.  In that system, those that could expose the community to risk of physical infection had their freedom of movement and access to society curtailed.[9]

Response by Nichols Miller, JD, PhD; Andrews University Seminary Professor of Church History; Director, International Religious Liberty Institute

References
  1. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905).
  2. Zucht v. King, 260 U.S. 174 (1922).
  3. Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dep’t of Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990) (feeding tube); Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995) (drug testing of students).
  4. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws#D
  5. Bridges, et al v. Houston Methodist Hospital et al
  6. Docket No. 4:21-cv-01774 (S.D. Tex. Jun 01, 2021).
  7. Matt. 22:39; Rom. 13:9.
  8. Rom. 13:10.
  9. Luke 17:11-14.

Note:  The Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) office at the NAD and Unions are available to assist with requests for personal religious exemptions.  Click the button to read the guidance from the NAD.

View NAD Guidance
Vegetarian/Vegan Diets2021-10-11T12:42:39-04:00
Q:  Does a Vegetarian/Vegan diet lesson the effects of Covid-19. Have there been any tests or studies?

We are starting to get good data from the pandemic that indicates that a Vegetarian/Vegan diet might be protective of COVID-19.  The studies are designed only to see if there is an association with diet and disease incidence and not if it is the cause, however.  In one study, a plant-based diet was associated with a 73% reduction in moderate COVID-19 and a 59% reduction in severe COVID-19.  This study also showed that compared to a plant-based diet, a low carbohydrate, high protein diet was associated with a 3.86 fold more likelihood of moderate to severe COVID-19.[1]  Again, it is not 100% protection and so a vegan diet alone doesn’t mean that one is sufficiently protected from getting severe COVID-19.

Response by Roger Seheult, MD, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine and  Assistant Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Allied Health at Loma Linda University

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