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After difficult year, COVID-19 vaccines bring joy and hope

'It’s a great relief to see so many friends and family becoming more protected. We’ve had enough sickness and loss.'

OKLAHOMA CITY — “Celebrate. People need hope.”

My friend David Duncan texted me that advice when I told him I was struggling to write this column.


Related: An unfathomable toll


A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to make sure I acknowledge the heartache and grief that so many have endured.

As my colleague Chellie Ison reports, the sheer magnitude of loss — more than 2.6 million dead around the world, including nearly 533,000 in the U.S. — is difficult to comprehend.

Flags cover the snowy ground outside the Alum Creek Church of Christ in Lewis Center, Ohio, in memory of the millions who have died from COVID-19.

Flags cover the snowy ground outside the Alum Creek Church of Christ in Lewis Center, Ohio, in memory of the millions who have died from COVID-19.

At the same time, after 12 months of disrupted lives, I want to praise God for the vaccines developed by companies such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The vaccines offer hope for ending the pandemic. They offer hope for a brighter tomorrow. They offer hope, in a very real sense, for my own family and friends.

My wife, Tamie, has autoimmune diseases that could very well cost her her life if she contracted COVID-19.

Because of Tamie’s health concerns, we’ve adhered strictly to masking, distancing and other safety precautions. For over a year, we’ve not attended an in-person worship assembly or eaten inside a restaurant.

But on a recent Thursday afternoon, my wife rolled up her sleeve and received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That was the one recommended by Tamie’s rheumatologist because of her life-threatening reactions to medications last year.

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“As I waited for my vaccine, I experienced several competing emotions,” Tamie said. “Gratitude was the first. I was so thankful to be getting a shot, aware that so many still await their turn.


Related: Most Christians welcome the COVID-19 vaccines, but some are skeptical


“I also thought about the God-given intellect and ability that infused the science behind this medicine,” she added. “I thanked him for that and for those who worked so hard this past year to make this possible.”

Like my wife, Chellie — The Christian Chronicle’s digital news editor and the mother of two precious young children — has an impaired immune system.

Chellie Ison with her vaccine card after receiving her first Moderna dose.

Chellie Ison with her vaccine card after receiving her first Moderna dose.

She, too, expressed her gratefulness for the scientists who worked hard to develop the vaccines.

Chellie flashed a wide smile as she held up her vaccine card in a recent Facebook picture.

“This card feels like a ticket to freedom, a chance (soon) to go to the grocery store, or church, or the hair salon (I haven’t had a haircut since 2019) without fear of my body failing to fight for me once again,” Chellie wrote. “I felt on the verge of tears many times leading up to and during this appointment.

“I never thought I would be happy to have a needle stabbed in my arm, but here I am,” she added. “I’m not trying to be dramatic or political. I’m just saying the last year has been hard.”

It has been incredibly hard for a lot of people. My heart aches for those who have faced isolation, battled severe illness or lost loved ones.

“It’s a great relief to see so many friends and family becoming more protected,” said my friend Christy Watson, who has made it her mission to help vulnerable people make vaccine appointments. “We’ve had enough sickness and loss.”

Here’s some good news: A growing share of Americans — 69 percent — intend to get vaccinated or already have, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s up from 60 percent who said in November they planned to be vaccinated.

“It’s a great relief to see so many friends and family becoming more protected. We’ve had enough sickness and loss.”

I pray that Christians will lead the way in taking this simple step to show love and concern for our neighbors.

After so many months of prayer requests for those stricken with COVID-19, I love that pictures of friends and relatives receiving doses of hope now flood my Facebook page.

No, the pandemic isn’t over. It won’t be for a long time.

But we’re moving, shot by shot, a little closer to normal things.

After receiving her final dose, my friend Cheryl Mann Bacon, a Chronicle correspondent, put on her mask and met friends for lunch. 

“That was a balm for my soul,” Cheryl told me, “just to sit and talk and laugh with really important people in my life.”

https://www.facebook.com/bobby.ross/posts/10159209640450645

I was so excited about receiving the first of my two Moderna shots that I shaved, showered and put on my best Texas Rangers T-shirt. I don’t normally don my fancy duds for a medical visit, but I did this time.

I’ll roll up my sleeve a second time soon and have the vaccine’s full protection by Easter. For the first time in a long time, I’ll be able to join fellow Christians for worship in person.


Related: Faith and COVID-19


“After Easter, I’m heading back into the land of the living,” I said in a text message to David.

“Well,” he replied, “Easter is about resurrection.”

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Coronavirus coronavirus and church COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccines Inside Story Johnson & Johnson Moderna National Opinion Pfizer Tamie Ross Top Stories vaccines

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