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 in 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 became available.5 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 article/go/0/immunization/

7 Ellen G. White, Medical Ministry, 262.

Katia Reinert is associate director of the Health Ministries Department for the General Conference.