Bex Lawton

We take delight in honouring each other: A response to the vaccine mandate

Bex is a paediatric nurse, author, and CMF's Associate Head of Nurses & Midwives.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of CMF.

Yesterday we learned that the Secretary of State for Health has agreed to reverse the UK government’s policy on Covid vaccine mandates after a brief consultation on the issue. At the time of writing, by 1 April 2022, all NHS staff in England would have had to have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep their frontline jobs. This meant that failing a change of government policy, any who had not had the first dose of vaccine by this Thursday (3 February 2022) was due for redeployment or unemployment.

CMF is strongly in favour of vaccination; however, we are not in favour of people being pressured to have them. Our members hold differing opinions on this sensitive subject; however, we are determined to ‘love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other’ (Roman 12 v. 10 NLT).

One way we’re trying to honour our unvaccinated members is to make space for and listen to their stories. We hope you will read them in the same spirit, whether or not you agree with their reasons. Here are just a few of the stories we have heard:

The paediatric nurse

My background is that I’m a paediatric intensive care (PICU) nurse, who had worked in PICU for six years. I felt uneasy about taking the vaccine for many reasons. Having been nursing in intensive care throughout the whole pandemic, I was well aware of the dangers that Covid posed, and the severity of illness experienced by those in intensive care. However, my experience also showed me that for the most part, patients who required ventilation for Covid nearly all had risk factors, predominantly obesity, type 2 diabetes, were male and over 50 years old. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but as a slim, healthy female in my twenties, I certainly didn’t fear Covid enough to make me run to get a vaccine.

‘Additionally, I had concerns regarding the use of fetal cell lines [in the production and testing of Covid vaccines], which I know is an issue that Christians differ on. Furthermore, the new use of mRNA concerned me, with the complete lack of long-term data to support it. And as time has gone on, I think it is becoming clear that the vaccines are actually pretty ineffective at preventing transmission. Fundamentally, I believe that each person has to make their own informed decision about whether they take it, and I wouldn’t judge them either way.

‘The hospital I worked for brought this mandate in much earlier than the government. Back in July, I was informed (by email!) that I would be removed from my position and put into a non-patient-facing role, due both to the “risk” to myself and to my patients. This was handled appallingly; I felt all my privacy and dignity had been taken from me, as from a certain date I wasn’t even allowed to enter the doors of PICU. It was done very publicly, and it was very hard to feel that all my colleagues knew about it. I was placed in a nursery for the staff’s children. I tried to fight the situation and had meetings with Human Resources and the RCN [Royal College of Nursing], but in the end, I felt I was on the verge of having a mental breakdown and felt the only way forward for me personally was to leave without working my notice period.

The adult surgical nurse

Being a newly qualified surgical nurse is stressful enough but having the threat of dismissal over a medical decision I have made, letters from the Trust, meetings with management and ‘encouragement’ to have the vaccine is certainly not helping. January’s shifts have been frequently punctuated with tears and it has not been uncommon for me to have wet cheeks on my walk back to the car.  I have worked so hard and dedicated the last 5 years of my life to nursing.  I care deeply about my patients and love my job.  My unit is short-staffed, and yet I am being sacked. It feels so unjust. 

My decision to remain unvaccinated is a matter of conscience towards God. It’s the use of fetal cell lines in the production and testing of vaccines that I cannot accept. I recognise that that is a personal decision between myself and the Lord and can totally understand why others would disagree. But I would be sinning against my conscience if I took the vaccine knowing this. So, yes, I am prepared to lose my job and seemingly my career over this. I know what he has required of me, after much prayer and tears, and that he will provide; and yet the process of surrender is hard. I believe his Word: Judgment will again be founded on righteousness (Psalm 94:15) and I know that he rules in the affairs of men (Dan 4:32).  I feel sad and yet joyful, knowing that the Lord is Sovereign and cares for me so much better than I could ever know.

The Adult Nursing Student

I started my career in the NHS just over three years ago, working as a healthcare assistant. In the beginning, I was not sure if nursing was the career path I wanted to pursue, however, the Lord showed me to apply to study adult nursing. He confirmed this was his will by leading me to a verse promising his peace and presence along the way. I can indeed say he has been with me throughout my first year of Uni and now, as I potentially face being removed from my course having made the choice to not take the Covid jab, I have such peace knowing the Lord has placed me here and it is for him to give or take away.

I decided not to take the Covid jab because I am young, fit and healthy and have already had Covid. I have concerns over the safety of the vaccine, as it is still in its clinical trial phase until 2023. It is proven to not reduce transmission of Covid, and for a virus with a 99.8% survival rate & average age of case mortality greater than the average UK life expectancy. I don’t see why I should need an injection.

My personal tutor has been sympathetic and has tried to be as supportive as possible.  She sent me this in an email:

“Whilst I fully respect your personal choice, I will say that your discontinuation on the course is sad news; you will be a huge loss to nursing. I can see that you would be a brilliant nurse and an outstanding nurse manager. You have made a significant impact in practice elements and your theory is outstanding. Simply you are one of the top students in your cohort and a dream to teach.

This vaccine mandate is not only affecting healthcare workers who have long-standing careers in the NHS but also those like myself who are just starting out on their nursing journey.

 

Thank you so much to those who bravely contributed to this blog.  If you have been personally affected by the vaccine mandate or the issues surrounding it, and feel in need of pastoral or spiritual support, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Pastoral & Wellbeing team at: wellbeing@cmf.org.uk

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