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TAGS: Covid-19 (Corona virus); Health and healing; Vaccination
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Abstract:
Bahá'ís should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts, and consider their social responsibilities and the common good. In large gatherings, responsible institutions should require full vaccination of all attendees.
Notes:
Title created for this online posting, not in original.

See also a collection of letters and compilations referenced in the letter below, at Vaccination and Covid-19: Five Letters Regarding Issues of Vaccination in 2020 and 2021.


Covid-19 Vaccination Guidance

by National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

2021-04-27
April 27, 2021

To the American Bahá’í community

Dearest Bahá’í Friends,

Now that three vaccines for COVID-19 have with laudable speed been both developed and received the endorsement of responsible Federal public health agencies, a national effort has, for several months, been steadily gaining momentum to vaccinate the highest possible proportion of the population and, in so doing, to diminish the ability of this coronavirus to infect people in large numbers and to continue its deadly spread.

As the practice of vaccination has increasingly become controversial in recent decades and the concept itself been subjected to attack, there is much information circulating in the public sphere about it―some of it trustworthy, some of it spurious―to the extent that the question of whether or not one ought to be vaccinated has become perplexing to millions of Americans. As a result, we have been receiving and continue to receive a high volume of correspondence from the friends requesting definitive guidance as to whether Bahá’ís should feel required to receive the vaccine.

Over the last few years, we have published widely a number of letters addressing the question, many written by the Universal House of Justice to individual believers. Even so, it has appeared to us that there is further need to summarize this guidance and help the friends gain clarity on how to properly respond to the current situation as Bahá’ís. On April 1, we shared with the community five letters written by the Supreme Body on the matter between July 2020 and February of this year, most of which we have referred to―and excerpted―in composing this letter. We attach them again for your ease of reference. (online here)

On many controversies of the day―including some revolving around our physical health and the fields of medicine and nutrition―the writings of our Faith make broad statements establishing a framework for further thought and action, but do not provide specific recommendations, trusting their resolution to the gradual development of the applicable sciences and the emerging of a solid body of evidence and "the prevailing or majority expert opinion." During his ministry as Guardian, Shoghi Effendi received a steady stream of queries about such matters, including vaccination. Consider this reply to one such inquirer, in 1944:

Regarding your question about vaccination: these are technical matters which have not been specifically mentioned in the teachings, and consequently the Guardian cannot make any statement about them.
Commenting on this matter, the Universal House of Justice summarizes thus:
In reply to scientific issues raised on a number of occasions, Shoghi Effendi consistently advised Bahá’ís that such matters would need to be investigated by scientists.
The Supreme Body further states, however:
In recent decades, advances in medical science have led to the production of effective vaccines, the use of which has freed humanity from many debilitating and deadly infectious diseases. Reports indicate that the coronavirus vaccines currently being developed offer great promise for protecting individuals from, and helping reduce transmission of, the virus. As to the advisability and efficacy of the various options that may become available, the friends should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts.
In another place, reiterating much of the above comment, the House of Justice adds:
In relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the friends should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts on . . . the wisdom of particular health measures. They should not be concerned merely with their own personal choices and well-being, but in reaching their decisions, they should also consider their social responsibilities and the common good.
While the Supreme Body ultimately leaves the question of vaccination to the friends’ best judgment, this only applies wherever the decision is not affected by state and local laws and ordinances, and school, workplace, and other institutional mandates and protocols:
A fundamental Bahá’í principle is loyalty and obedience to government. . . . If a Bahá’í is faced with a governmental mandate of vaccination, the Bahá’í writings would not provide him or her justification for refusing to comply with such a legal requirement.
In light of the above guidance, we wish to make it clear that in formulating policies for participation in Bahá’í events, the responsible institutions of the Faith―whether Regional Bahá’í Councils, Regional Training Institutes, Local Spiritual Assemblies, or registered Bahá’í groups―should adhere scrupulously to public health guidelines that have been established in their state and locality. This includes protocols for safe social distancing, face masking, handwashing, sanitation, and vaccination.

Further, in the case of programs and events―such as weekend camps and large gatherings―in which prolonged and close exposure to others is unavoidable and where protocols in effect are deemed insufficient, the same responsible institutions should require full vaccination of all attendees.

We are confident the friends will understand these measures to be in the best interests of all and will not permit a well-warranted concern for the protection of the health and well-being of all members of our community to become a source of disunity.

Our prayers for your safety, comfort, and happiness travel with you at all times.

With loving Bahá’í greetings,

    Kenneth E. Bowers
    Secretary

    National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

    Attachments (5) [online at bahai-library.com/uhj_vaccination_covid-19]

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