The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About Vaccines

The Gospel Coalition | 6/18/2019 | Staff
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What just happened?

After an outbreak of measles cases originating in Orthodox Jewish communities, lawmakers in New York voted last Thursday to end religious exemptions for immunizations.

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Calling it a public health emergency, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo immediately signed the bill. “While I understand and respect freedom of religion, our first job is to protect the public health,” Cuomo said in a statement, adding that the new law “will help prevent further transmissions and stop this outbreak right in its tracks.”

New York joins Arizona, California, Maine, Mississippi, and West Virginia in disallowing exemptions on religious grounds.

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What are vaccines, vaccinations, and immunizations?

A vaccine is created from the same germs that cause disease, using extremely small amounts of weak or dead microbes such as viruses, bacteria, or toxins. A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly as it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.

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Vaccination is the act of getting a vaccine, usually as a shot, while immunization is the process of becoming immune to (i.e., protected against) a disease.

What are the benefits of vaccinations?

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Vaccines have proven to be one of humankind’s greatest inventions, and the single most powerful and effective way of reducing disease and improving global health.

Annual use of recommended vaccines for children has been estimated to avert up to 3 million deaths per year globally, with even greater numbers of prevented cases of illness and substantial disability. For children born in the United States in 2009, routine childhood immunization will prevent an estimated 42,000 early deaths and 20 million cases of disease. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, though, if global vaccination coverage improves.

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Are vaccinations required by law?

All states require children to be vaccinated against certain communicable diseases as a...
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