President Russell M. Nelson and his wife received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine along with seven other General Authorities and their wives.
A statement released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Jan. 19 says “the Church urges its members, employees and missionaries to be good global citizens and help quell the pandemic by safeguarding themselves and others through immunization.”
President Nelson said in a Facebook post he was grateful for the opportunity to receive the vaccine. He also said producing a safe vaccine in less than a year is “nothing short of miraculous.”
“As a former surgeon and medical researcher, I know something of the effort needed to accomplish such a remarkable feat,” he said.
President Dallin H. Oaks expressed his gratitude for getting the vaccine. “We’re very hopeful that the general vaccination of the population will help us get ahead of this awful pandemic.”
The statement says although the Church has supported vaccination for generations, “individuals are responsible to make their own decisions about vaccination.”
On Jan. 18, vaccinations became available for citizens aged 70 or older in Utah’s vaccination rollout plan. The First Presidency said “because of their age, Senior Church leaders over 70 now welcome the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
According to the Church News, all of the senior church leaders who were eligible for the vaccine received the first dose Tuesday morning.
The senior leaders who received the vaccine are President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson; President Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks; President Henry B. Eyring; President M. Russell Ballard; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland; Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf; Elder Quentin L. Cook and his wife, Sister Mary Cook; and Elder D. Todd Christofferson and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson.
“We have prayed for this literal godsend,” President Nelson tweeted.
Many members of the Church are responding to his Tweet and Facebook post with relief, gratitude and praise.
On President Nelson’s Facebook post, the Church left a comment asking responders to remember the community guidelines. “Comments that are profane, crude, insensitive, off-topic or contain personal attacks will not be approved. While we encourage conversation it is against our guidelines to support long threads of argument.”
“I was hesitant and having so much anxiety if taking a vaccine. What a relief to see President taking it,” said @malanda40.
“I’m grateful to be led by a prophet, seer, and revelator who aligns his life with truth and invites all people to do the same,” Scott Livingston tweeted.
Tommy Johnson referenced “pro-science” President-elect Joe Biden in his response to Nelson’s tweet. “God is the author of science,” he said.
Others are saying they will not get vaccinated despite the prophet’s encouragement.
“Thanks President Nelson, for your leadership, but me and my family will not be vaccined,” Marcos Furtado tweeted
“I won’t be getting it either and this has absolutely NOTHING to do with my faithfulness in following a Prophet of God,” @LMBooksWorm said.
Dear prophet, many of us do not find cause to give such implicit trust over our sacred temples to governments that have been proven to not have the best interests of their people at heart. Blindly trusting pharma is against my religion. Not saying you do though.
— Jawakisser (@jawakisser) January 19, 2021
“Taking a vaccine is an individual’s decision and anyone who takes it just because the Prophet does is not following their own belief system. I live and follow the prophet in most things but have disagree here!” Priscilla Briggs said.
The controversy on Twitter also highlighted President Nelson’s background as a doctor and surgeon, some claiming it gives his vaccination decision more credibility.
@Arotordog questioned the vaccine’s safety and Nelson’s authority in his Tweet. “What if a vaccine has shown to be ineffective and harmful to our bodies? Are we required to willfully allow harm to be done to us and our families? Serious question asked with respect, President Nelson.”
Eric Walker responded to this tweet saying with Nelson’s background as a doctor “it’s very telling that he still recommends them.”