Love your neighbors. Get vaccinated.

Lauren Hoekstra— Staff Writer 

When younger, I was tasked with a school project on 9/11. My class and I were to interview our parents or someone who could remember the day. I interviewed my mom and, after telling me how she heard of the terrorists attack in the grocery store, she said something like this: “Typically, once in a lifetime, you experience something that you’ll never forget that impacts how you see the world forever.” At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about. Now I do.

As we have all heard, we are living in “unprecedented times” with the COVID-19 pandemic. This has likely been the strangest year and a half that we have lived in. From semesters of masking and quarantines to returning to school this fall with no restrictions, how do we as Christians react to this situation?

When we were sent home in the spring of 2020, my family and I were very cautious. We went to see my grandma and sat in chairs six feet apart in the garage. My mom left groceries in the car for at least a day and disinfected the ones that unable to sit in the heat.

As time passed, along with many of you, I assume, my family stopped caring as much as we did. Like any other tragedy on the news, it faded out as the shock of the situation declined.

When vaccines became available in the spring, I hesitated. What if they weren’t safe? They had been tested and sent out to the general public so fast. What if the scientists were wrong? When Dordt had its on-campus vaccination clinic in early April, I signed up because of its convenience, but I still had some doubts. I was a little sick the following few days, but in general, I’ve been healthy since then, refuting my early thoughts about long-term side effects. 

The vaccine critics say there’s just too much we don’t know. My parents fall into this category. Neither are vaccinated—hesitant for what could happen and not sure if COVID-19 poses a risk to them.

As my parents continue to postpone their vaccination, I’ve seen people I love and care for get seriously sick from the virus. Some have passed away as a result of its complications. Sure, they may have had other contributing conditions, but they won’t change the fact that contracting the illness made them weaker than they were to begin with.

My brother has a pre-existing health condition that could put him in the hospital should he contract COVID-19. My grandparents back home and some of my professors here are getting older and frailer as time passes, leaving them vulnerable as well.

The United States is a strong nation, and in the face of adversity, we have triumphed by standing together against threats. After 9/11, our country banded together with all people of all walks of life: Republican, Democrat, Christian, Muslim, atheist, black, white, immigrant, native—no matter the demographic, we came together to rebuild. 

The pandemic has affected us all differently—whether we have lost people close to us or not. The past year and a half have indeed been unprecedented, but we can rise together as a nation to minimize our losses. Regardless of whether you care about your own health, perhaps your professor has an underlying condition that could send them to the hospital. Maybe your roommate. Or your parents. Or the cashier at Walmart checking your items for you.

Jesus commands us to love God and love our neighbors in order to best serve Him. A real and tangible way we can love our neighbors is to get vaccinated. Let’s all band together, just as we did in 2001 and rebuild this country to the great nation we know it can be.

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