For years people have raised concerns about vaccinations. They have many reasons for their fear. Debates and questions like “Should I get immunized myself?” or “Should I vaccinate my children?” are issues we all have to face at some point.
Over the years, this debate about whether or not Adventists
should get immunized has created some heated discussions.
Some people believe that vaccines cause autism or
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Conspiracy theories
are often cited, suggesting that some people in power use
or create vaccines to harm the population and keep them
sick. Still others argue that there is no need to introduce a
“poisonous” substance in the body when one’s own strong
immune system is what defeats illness.
Unfortunately, these arguments and assumptions have
caused some Seventh-day Adventists to say “No!” to immunizations
for themselves or their children. In some places
around the world, Adventists in churches, schools, and
hospitals contribute to low vaccination rates in their communities,
putting at risk the immunity of others. Many cite
“religious doctrines” to receive a waver where vaccines are
required. But are these notions accurate?
What we know is that there is no conclusive evidence
that any of these assumptions are true. In fact, on the scientific
side, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has carefully
examined the vaccine/autism links and refutes this claim. After
10 well-conducted studies, they concluded that there is
no link between autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines
or the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine in children.1
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Public
Health Service have published their own joint statement,
which also highlights this.2
The same is true for SIDS. After years of study, researchers
concluded that vaccines are not a risk factor for SIDS.3
While it is true that some vaccines may have adverse effects,
these are usually rare and minor. In addition, some adverse
effects are coincidental and not caused by vaccines. A
comprehensive report by the Institutes of Medicine (IOM)4
2011 stated that despite these adverse effects, the evidence
convincingly supports vaccinations.
The benefits of immunizations have been observed over
the years. Children and adults have had fewer infections, and
certain diseases (measles, polio, and others) have disappeared
entirely from certain states and countries. Herd immunity
points to the fact that when you get vaccinated, you
are also providing immunity for your home, community, and country. So the fact is that vaccines can save lives—not just
yours when you receive them but other people’s lives, too.
But what about religious reasons? There is no doctrine
in the Seventh-day Adventist Church that prohibits vaccines.
Ellen White herself took the smallpox vaccine when it first
In order to reaffirm this, the Adventist
Church has guidelines regarding vaccinations, which state:
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church places strong emphasis
on health and well-being. The Adventist health emphasis
is based on biblical revelation, the inspired writing of
E. G. White (co-founder of the Church), and on peer-reviewed
scientific literature. As such, we encourage responsible immunization/vaccination,
and have no religious or faith-based
reason not to encourage our adherents to responsibly participate
in protective and preventive immunization programs.
We value the health and safety of the population, which includes
the maintenance of ‘herd immunity.’ We are not the
conscience of the individual church member, and recognize
individual choices. These are exercised by the individual.
The choice not to be immunized is not and should not be
seen as the doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”6
As elders and spiritual leaders, we have a responsibility to help educate our members about the vaccination issue. While we respect each person’s choices, it is important that we help disseminate sound and balanced principles that will impact not only his or her health but also the health of others. Ellen White was firm to say, “We must educate, educate, educate. Pleasantly and intelligently.”7
Consider saying “Yes!” to immunizations and educating others to do so. This can be an important choice to help people experience a more full and abundant life (John 10:10, NIV).
5 Ellen G. White, Selected Messages (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn. 1958, 1980), 2:303.
6 http://www.adventist.org/information/official-stat... article/go/0/immunization/
Ellen G. White, Medical Ministry, 262.
Katia Reinert is associate director of the Health
Ministries Department for the General Conference.