While the future of the pandemic remains uncertain, we know that one of the key tools we have to combat this — the most serious health emergency in a century — is the roll out of vaccines that provide some immunity from the more serious health risks. For too many, Covid-19 results in time spent on intensive care on a ventilator, with tragic numbers dying. This is not just another flu or serious cold, but a deadly infection.
There are many who have such serious reservations about the vaccines that they will refuse to take one when offered — perhaps 50% in some communities according to up-to-date evidence — and that is a cause of grave concern for the Government and for the churches. Churches Together in England is therefore supporting the vaccination programme and efforts to provide answers to the questions that many have (see a range of resource links below).
The speed of development and approval of the Covid-19 vaccines has been remarkable, however the story did not simply start a year ago, but rather begins in the years of previous research to understand both viruses and the human immune system. The urgency and severity of this pandemic has required accelerated approval processes, but they are, nonetheless, thorough and rigorous.
Leaders from some of the churches have already had their first dose of the vaccine — either because they fall into the age groups currently being offered a vaccination, or because they work in front-line contexts such as hospital chaplaincy. Others are waiting, but will seize the opportunity to have the vaccine, not only for their own safety, but because of the safety it will bring to the whole community.
Churches Together in England is also working with the Government and people of all faiths and none, as we face this common challenge to our humanity. As we face this worldwide health emergency, now is the time to see how we can ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’, and as we do so, love God with all our heart, soul, mind and body.
This page will be updated regularly with vaccine-related initiatives, particularly those linked to our 51 national Member Churches:
- Two documents produced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government can be found here, ready to download and use:
- COVID-19 Stakeholder and Influencer Toolkit – Overview
- Top Lines and QA for stakeholders – COVID-19 vaccine
- From the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS): Toolkit to help tackle spread of false vaccine information on social media
- Note from Lord Greenhalgh outlining the process for undocumented people to access the vaccine
Video and audio resources:
- ‘Diocese of Southwark leading black clergy urge UK Minority Ethnic community to take vaccine’ – a short video from Bishop Karowei Dorgu, Bishop of Woolwich and formerly a medical doctor, and Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Archdeacon of Croydon.
- A range of video resources can be found on the Elim Church web resource area on vaccinations
- Listen to a Methodist Church podcast: “Trust in God and trust in the scientists”
- On Sunday 28 March at 6.30 pm the Church of God of Prophecy hosted by Bishop Tedroy Powell and Churches Together in England Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural relations, Shermara Fletcher, will be back discussing the vaccine from a theological, holistic health and socio-political perspective. Joining the panel will be The Mayor of Bristol Marvin J Reeves, Director of NHS Race and Health Observatory Dr Habib Naqvi MBE, Professor Wilmore Webley of Microbiology at UMass Amherst, Dr Joan St John and Dr Marvin Sanguinetti. Watch the broadcast
- Your Neighbour is launching #GiveHope to support churches talk to their communities about the vaccine programme
- Join The Apostolic Pastoral Congress on Zoom for a conversation on Covid-19, vaccine and myths on Saturday 20 February at 7.30pm.
- The Redeemed Christian Church of God held an enlightening conversation about the COVID vaccine on Wednesday 3 February at 7.00pm. Chaired by CTE Pentecostal President, Pastor Agu Irukwu, questions were answered by health professionals, giving people the information they need to make an informed decision (see poster at bottom of page).
- Watch a webinar on the Covid-19 vaccine: organised one of our 51 Member Churches, The Church of God of Prophecy, on Sunday 31 January, 6.30-8.30pm (see poster at bottom of page). The webinar featured a range of lecturers, medical professionals and Christian leaders, including Shermara Fletcher (who joins the CTE team as our Principal Officer for Pentecostal, Charismatic and Multi-cultural Relations this March). Part 2 takes place on Sunday 7 February at 6.30pm.
- Many of our national Member Churches have arranged similar webinars, including the Cherubim and Seraphim church.
Other church resources:
- Prayers for the health service can be found on the website of the Baptist Union, one of our 51 national Member Churches.
- Jesus House is part of our national Member Church the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and led by CTE’s Pentecostal President Pastor Agu Irukwu. In collaboration with the NHS, the church has successfully completed their temporary transformation into a pop-up vaccination clinic, as part of the on-going nationwide vaccination programme. Read more on the Keep the Faith website…
- Elim, one of our national Member Churches, has provided a web resource area on vaccinations.
- The Salvation Army, another of our national Member Churches, shares how a number of their churches and community centres are being used as vaccination centres.
- A Methodist Church minister reflects on how her church is supporting their community through offering their building as a vaccination centre.
- Amid the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in some communities, World Council of Churches acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca has encouraged religious leaders to build trust, combat misinformation and contribute to decisions accepted in their own contexts.
Regular Rapid Covid-19 testing
Alongside the rollout of the vaccine, regular testing is an essential part of the easing of restrictions, helping identify variants and stopping individual cases from becoming outbreaks.
Anyone can now access free, rapid lateral flow tests (LFDs) for themselves and their families to use twice a week.
LFDs show results in under 30 minutes, and by taking them we can take the ‘next step safely,’ protecting our loved ones, customers, work colleagues and friends as we continue to cautiously ease restrictions.
Around one in three people with COVID-19 do not experience any symptoms and may be spreading the virus unwittingly. Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, and by making rapid tests available to everyone, more cases will be detected, breaking chains of transmission and saving lives.
Getting a rapid test
Getting a rapid test is quick and convenient. Regular, rapid testing will be delivered through:
- a home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home [ visit: nhs.uk/get-tested]
- workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home
- community testing, offered by all local authorities
- collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
- testing on-site at schools and colleges
- collection from participating pharmacies.
If testing at home, individuals will need to register their results online or by calling 119. They should self-isolate if they get a positive result and order a confirmatory PCR test.
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 – a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – should book a PCR test online or by calling 119.