Some older Americans are struggling over whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A number of senior members have leaned on expert medical advice and their faith to decide whether to get vaccinated, seeing it as a test of faith to follow Church leadership.
“Historically, vaccines work. They may not be perfect, but they have proven to be worth the small risk for me, as well as for those around me,” said Pam Cluff, a 60-year-old Boise, Idaho resident. “I look at my grandchildren and am happy they now have protection from measles and other diseases. There is a real benefit to them.”
Although Cluff and her husband have been attending church services in person since 2021 began, they plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. “We keep our masks on and distance,” Cluff said, adding that getting the vaccine may increase her comfort level with in-person meetings.
“For those of us believers, we have been praying and even fasting that the pandemic ends,” said Nicholas Hodgman, an interventional cardiologist in Nampa, Idaho. A practicing Latter-day Saint, he said, “We prayed that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened and life normalized. God answered that prayer with a miracle cure: The mRNA vaccine.”
In a Facebook post, Hodgman compared the mRNA vaccine to the first miracle Jesus performed. “There was a wedding. Jesus’s mother needed wine, but they had none. She asked Jesus and He miraculously changed water into wine. There was a need and God provided for that need.”
“The people that are refusing to wear masks and get vaccinated don’t realize this pandemic is not political. It’s bigger than that. It is a real threat to our health,” said Diane Harris, a 79-year-old Salt Lake City resident. “A neighbor on my corner says she isn’t going to get vaccinated. A lot of older people I know have mixed feelings.”
According to Harris, another elderly member in her ward is not interested in getting the vaccine either. “I tried convincing her by saying the Prophet set the example for the rest of us. My friend still won’t get it.”
“I feel like we are in Moses’s day, wandering in the desert,” Harris said. “When the vipers were biting the people, all they needed to do was look at the brazen serpent on a pole and they would live.”
Harris said wearing a mask, social distancing and getting the vaccine is similar to looking at the brazen serpent.
“The mRNA vaccine against COVID has and will control the pandemic, it has already protected me,” Hodgman said. “I have cared for multiple COVID patients since having the vaccine, and it has already strengthened the economy and looks to normalize life.”
Hodgman added, “When we ask for wine, why not take it and say thank you?”