Church/Members Asking About a Person's Vaccination Status

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
With the CDC's new guidelines I've found many people already making small talk over their vaccination status. I work at a hotel and already guests will ask the staff if they have been vaccinated. I'm sure some members of different congregations will begin asking each other the same questions on Lord's Day mornings. Some might even request that they only sit in same pews as others who have received the vaccine.

Do I have to disclose whether or not I have had the vaccine? Some are saying that it's just like how kids going to school must prove they have their shots. It just makes me uncomfortable when people ask so bluntly if I've received my shots.

How should this be handled on both sides of the aisle?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
You are not legally or morally obligated to disclose to anyone anything whatsoever about your medical status records. Nobody can require it of you. Of course, they can refuse service if you refrain disclosure, but they cannot coerce you to disclose anything.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
Of course you don't have to disclose whether or not you've been vaccinated if you don't want to! It should be handled respectfully by people both sides. People who ask shouldn't be asking as the inquisition for either side (indeed, I've found myself asking mainly as a form of small talk) and people should be respected for their reasonable decisions. I understand why some are hesitant, but I generally think the benefits outweigh the risks. I respect those who come to different conclusions (as long as they're not promoting unfounded or false claims about the vaccine or criticizing those who choose differently from them). Generally speaking, respectful honesty is the best policy.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Most people who ask whether or not you have had the vaccine are only making conversation. I was talking to three people in their 60s (at least) up at the north coast the other day, and all of them had taken it, but respected my reasons for not doing so. I said that I had read the government's documents on the vaccines and decided that the risks outweighed the potential benefits. I also said that I considered it unnecessary to vaccinate people who are not at serious risk from the disease - and certainly not the entire population. These folks, all of whom had taken it themselves, agreed with my reasoning on the subject. We also agreed that vaccines were a personal matter, the media are not to be trusted, and that the lockdowns were a scam. There is no need to bite anyone's head off; if you demonstrate that you understand why they might consider it wise to take it, they are often open to listening to your reasons for refusing the vaccines.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I ask people in my community, in my congregation. For no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity, and to make conversation. Not as a litmus test of some sort. So far the majority have said they've gotten the vaccine, and I know some anti vaxxers, but there's never been any contentious words on either side of my encounters discussing the subject. In our congregation it isn't, and will never be, a reason to exclude anyone.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
I think it's completely fine for a matter of small talk and conversation, but I don't think it should be brought up as a matter of judgment and division. The reality is that if somebody is vaccinated, they no longer have to worry about the virus for themselves, because they are mostly immune to any serious effects of it, so it seems pointless to bring up.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
It's been a topic of casual conversation for quite some time at our church, starting when the shots were difficult to arrange. At this point, I'd assume that everyone that wanted one had gotten one, and those that haven't don't care or have already had the WuFlu. A couple of weeks ago, it was rare to see someone without a mask or face shield; by last week a majority appeared to be un-masked during the service. I'll mask this week because I'm ushering, but it is likely the last week for me to do that.

As for those with particular concerns, several options. 1) stay at home and watch the live stream. 2) go to the 8 AM outdoor service. 3) there are hundreds of empty seats with room for 60 foot rather than 6 foot social distancing in the fellowship hall with a large screen there. So if someone wants to be difficult, they can be advised of their options.

How should this be handled on both sides of the aisle?
As a last resort, there is always honesty. Yes, No, or "I plead HIPAA rights"
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
I can tell you this: If churches have already made masks a condition of entry, there is no logical reason why they will not do the same thing with the vaccine.
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've just been surprised how free people feel to ask if you’ve been vaccinated. Remember when private health information was considered private?
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
It is no one's business whether I have been vaccinated. If I am asked I will decline to answer. If pressed, I will tell them it is a private matter that does not concern them.
 

pilgrimmum

Puritan Board Freshman
With the CDC's new guidelines I've found many people already making small talk over their vaccination status. I work at a hotel and already guests will ask the staff if they have been vaccinated. I'm sure some members of different congregations will begin asking each other the same questions on Lord's Day mornings. Some might even request that they only sit in same pews as others who have received the vaccine.

Do I have to disclose whether or not I have had the vaccine? Some are saying that it's just like how kids going to school must prove they have their shots. It just makes me uncomfortable when people ask so bluntly if I've received my shots.

How should this be handled on both sides of the aisle?
Some people want to know because of the reactions some unvaccinated people are experiencing when in close proximity to vaccinated people. There has been a lot of reports about this lately. Some unvaccinated people are choosing to self- isolate from vaccinated people so I guess then it becomes an important question for them.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I've just been surprised how free people feel to ask if you’ve been vaccinated. Remember when private health information was considered private?

Indeed, it is strange. It is also peculiar that we live in an age wherein I am considered responsible for the health of all 68 million people in the UK, but no one is responsible for their own health. If someone, somewhere gets COVID, it is my fault for not wearing a mask in a shop. Conversely, if that person is badly ill from COVID as a result of being morbidly obese, then it is everyone's fault but their own. Many people who are happy to police everyone else for not following the Pharisaical COVID-rules to "protect the NHS", which, if you read them, are impossible for anyone to follow, have no problem eating to excess so that they are obese, smoking forty cigarettes a day, and sitting at home getting drunk every night, despite the strain these things put on the health service.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I'm a bit surprised by the "it's personal" responses. At my church, we're encouraged to ask personal questions. I guess I wonder what kind of real, Christian-fellowship conversations we are expected to have at church if we shy away from anything personal.

Especially when it has come to COVID, I've been thankful to have a church where I can discuss the many considerations that go into caring for others and honoring God during this time. Bouncing my vaccine thoughts off of fellow believers who know me well has been a part of that. I'm glad for those conversations. I think conversations of that sort are one of the reasons God puts us in local churches. The alternative, I suppose, would be to reach my own conclusions about difficult matters by reading some guys on the Internet and then go to church with my mind made up, refusing to discuss or pray about it with the believers who know me best and care about me. I don't want to end up like that.

I do understand that some churches are filled with judgmental people. I agree that I wouldn't want to get personal with them. Or if the spirit behind asking about one's vaccination status is some sort of shibboleth, that would be bad. And if someone wants privacy, I'm willing to honor that—they have their reasons. But I have a hard time seeing how "don't get personal" ought to be the norm within a church.
 
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JM

Puritan Board Doctor
It's a politically motivated question, a reason for gossip that creates the opportunity to virtue signal.
 
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Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm a bit surprised by the "it's personal" responses. At my church, we're encouraged to ask personal questions. I guess I wonder what kind of real, Christian-fellowship conversations we are expected to have at church if we shy away from anything personal.

Especially when it has come to COVID, I've been thankful to have a church where I can discuss the many considerations that go into caring for others and honoring God during this time. Bouncing my vaccine thoughts off of fellow believers who know me well has been a part of that. I'm glad for those conversations. I think conversations of that sort are one of the reasons God puts us in local churches. The alternative, I suppose, would be to reach my own conclusions about difficult matters by reading some guys on the Internet and then go to church with my mind made up, refusing to discuss or pray about it with the believers who know me best and care about me. I don't want to end up like that.

I do understand that some churches are filled with judgmental people. I agree that I wouldn't want to get personal with them. Of if the spirit behind asking about one's vaccination status is some sort of shibboleth, that would be bad. And if someone wants privacy, I'm willing to honor that—they have their reasons. But I have a hard time seeing how "don't get personal" ought to be the norm within a church.

The issue is that I don't want to be made to feel like I am the problem when I don't believe that I am. We know couples in church who are terrified and who refuse to come to church even though that are relatively young, without kids, and in great health. Regardless, that's their choice. When does the fear of unvaccinated individuals become an unwarranted fear? Should we not seek to convince our fellow believers that they are in no danger? I mean, I cannot really say for certain that they are/are not. But to avoid fellowship in the church week after week, month after month, until you're certain that most others in the church are vaccinated doesn't seem okay. Also, I don't think I should be made to feel guilty as if I am the reason why they cannot come to church because I am not vaccinated.
 

Beoga

Puritan Board Freshman
It's a politically motivated question, a reason for gossip that creates the opportunity to virtual signal.
I ask the question because I am genuinely curious what people are doing. It helps me think through my decision making. I respect those that have gotten the vaccine. I respect those who will never get the vaccine. I respect those that are waiting (as long as they can) for to see how the vaccines turn out. I especially trust my brothers and sisters in the Lord to make the best decision for themselves and their family. No politics or virtue signaling for me (unless this statement is one...)
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
With the CDC's new guidelines I've found many people already making small talk over their vaccination status
I just read all the posts, and no one mentioned people like me. When I'm asked if I'm vaccinated, I tell the truth, "no, I'm not vaccinated. I'm better than that. I had covid, and I am immune. Probably a lot safer than any of you who have been vaccinated. And I don't shed anything that could harm others either."

BTW - It's been four months now since my wife and I got over the illness, and I still have no smell or taste. Even that's working out for my good because I'm eating a lot less and losing some excess weight I gained during the lockdowns. :)

But here's the bottom line. People never seem satisfied with my answer. They seem only to trust somebody who is vaccinated. Also, I have read there's a three times greater risk of an adverse reaction to the vaccine for somebody who already has had covid.

This thing isn't over yet.
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I'm a bit surprised by the "it's personal" responses. At my church, we're encouraged to ask personal questions. I guess I wonder what kind of real, Christian-fellowship conversations we are expected to have at church if we shy away from anything personal.

Especially when it has come to COVID, I've been thankful to have a church where I can discuss the many considerations that go into caring for others and honoring God during this time. Bouncing my vaccine thoughts off of fellow believers who know me well has been a part of that. I'm glad for those conversations. I think conversations of that sort are one of the reasons God puts us in local churches. The alternative, I suppose, would be to reach my own conclusions about difficult matters by reading some guys on the Internet and then go to church with my mind made up, refusing to discuss or pray about it with the believers who know me best and care about me. I don't want to end up like that.

I do understand that some churches are filled with judgmental people. I agree that I wouldn't want to get personal with them. Of if the spirit behind asking about one's vaccination status is some sort of shibboleth, that would be bad. And if someone wants privacy, I'm willing to honor that—they have their reasons. But I have a hard time seeing how "don't get personal" ought to be the norm within a church.

I see the general point that you are making, Jack, but I think you are missing one crucial contextual factor. Some of us are living in a context where churches are seriously considering introducing vaccine passports in order to attend the services. (Thankfully, not my congregation.) For that reason, some people are understandably concerned that questions about vaccines may be more than just making conversation. They are reluctant to answer such questions because they fear that they would be painting a target on their backs that could see them excluded from church. Having said that, I do think it is generally best to presume that the brethren who ask us about such matters do not have a bad motive and just explain your reasons for your decision on the subject.
 

ChristianLibertarian

Puritan Board Freshman
With the CDC's new guidelines I've found many people already making small talk over their vaccination status. I work at a hotel and already guests will ask the staff if they have been vaccinated. I'm sure some members of different congregations will begin asking each other the same questions on Lord's Day mornings. Some might even request that they only sit in same pews as others who have received the vaccine.

Do I have to disclose whether or not I have had the vaccine? Some are saying that it's just like how kids going to school must prove they have their shots. It just makes me uncomfortable when people ask so bluntly if I've received my shots.

How should this be handled on both sides of the aisle?
Your employer can ask about your vaccine status and can require you to get the vax if they so desire. There is no law prohibiting employers from requiring Covid vaccinations as a term of employment in the US. HIPPA privacy protections were specifically suspended as to Covid thus allowing employers to inquire about your healh status regarding Covid.

As for people asking about whether of not you have been vaccinated, if at church the question makes you uncomfortable politely decline to answer. I suspect most people are just making small talk. Perhaps there are extremists on both the pro and anti-vax sides that want to inquire and harshly judge you for reaching a different conclusion than they did. For the most part though, people are happy to return to normal and are only inquiring about vaccination status to make small talk.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
There's nothing unique about this question. In many churches, there are questions that are explosive, that in another church would simply be inoffensive small talk. "Do you home school?" "What do you think about Donald Trump?" "Do your kids read Harry Potter?": the list could be multiplied. Wise churches and leaders will teach and model what Christian liberty is, how far it extends, and how to disagree well with other believers (and unbelievers). This just happens to be the latest manifestation, and your experience will be very much influenced by the sub-culture within which your church exists, as this thread already demonstrates.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
We know couples in church who are terrified and who refuse to come to church even though that are relatively young, without kids, and in great health.
Church leadership needs to step up with care, teaching, and discipline. Care for their mental health, teaching about life, death, and eternal life, and discipline for their disobedience.
 

hammondjones

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've not been asked. But, (I assume) I'll likely disclose if I know the person, else I'll suggest that it is not a concern of theirs.

However, I have a friend who plans on identifying as a transvaxxite, and will tell people he's vaccinated.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
The issue is that I don't want to be made to feel like I am the problem when I don't believe that I am. We know couples in church who are terrified and who refuse to come to church even though that are relatively young, without kids, and in great health. Regardless, that's their choice. When does the fear of unvaccinated individuals become an unwarranted fear? Should we not seek to convince our fellow believers that they are in no danger? I mean, I cannot really say for certain that they are/are not. But to avoid fellowship in the church week after week, month after month, until you're certain that most others in the church are vaccinated doesn't seem okay. Also, I don't think I should be made to feel guilty as if I am the reason why they cannot come to church because I am not vaccinated.
Of course, much depends on the vibe within the particular church, and the fear of being labelled a danger to others is understandable. But I am suggesting it would be good if such concerns could be openly discussed in a church with a charitable mindset, so that people could bear each other's burdens rather than immediately despise or dismiss burdens they think are unreasonable.

In your case, let's say you have a burden in that you believe getting vaccinated is an unwise personal health decision or a capitulation to an evil agenda (or whatever your reason might be). If you had a church where people were inclined to help bear your burden even if they suspected you might be overreacting, or where people would challenge you patiently and without shaming you if they thought you needed to think through the matter more, and would work to find solutions that that help everyone follow their conscience and still join in fellowship, etc.—wouldn't that be a good church? Likewise, if you had discussions with that other family and came to understand why they are more concerned about the virus than you are, so that even if you ultimately still disagree you know how you can help bear their burden and/or gently challenge them in loving ways—wouldn't it be good for you to face up to your responsibility to love them like that?

The alternative is to believe we are so right and others are so wrong (they are so obviously deceived that we can only have scorn for their decisions) that the best we can do when we encounter them at church is keep our head down and avoid any meaningful fellowship. Perhaps this preserves some peace sometimes, but it isn't really what we ought to desire in a church.

A personal story: Yesterday at my church, a family that has been absent for a year showed up. I noticed them as they walked up the street toward the front door, and I greeted them. I told them I was glad to see them. Happily, they took a chance and explained that they'd stayed away due to COVID but were coming back now that the mom and dad were fully vaccinated. They asked about my COVID/church decisions, and I explained my thinking (I've been in church every week except once when we stayed away voluntarily because we'd been exposed elsewhere in town). They seemed to appreciate that, and I asked them more about their concerns. They have a strong social conscience and mom and dad both have public-service jobs that require contact with vulnerable people, plus there's an ailing grandfather in the picture, and they felt duty-bound to stop attending worship for a while. Now, that is not a choice I think I would have made, for reasons they and I might discuss sometime, but rather than silently judge them or scoff at their decision I now can understand them better. Plus I know how to help bear their burden. They're still a bit leery of spending the morning inside our building, and of sending their daughter to my Sunday school class where the kids of course remain unvaccinated, and if I can make them feel a bit more comfortable by reminding my students about their masks or something of that sort, I'm glad to do it. It's a little bit of burden-sharing, and a significant kindness to them, even if I personally suspect it won't make much difference in actual virus protection.

My point is that I've never been particularly close to that family even though I've taught their kids, but after yesterday's talk at church—which did not shy away from COVID despite some differing concerns—I feel closer to them than before. That's good. That should be happening when the church meets together.
 
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Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
Of course, much depends on the vibe within the particular church, and the fear of being labelled a danger to others is understandable. But I am suggesting it would be good if such concerns could be openly discussed in a church with a charitable mindset, so that people could bear each other's burdens rather than immediately despise or dismiss burdens they think are unreasonable.

In your case, let's say you have a burden in that you believe getting vaccinated is an unwise personal health decision or a capitulation to an evil agenda (or whatever your reason might be). If you had a church where people were inclined to help bear your burden even if they suspected you might be overreacting, or where people would challenge you patiently and without shaming you if they thought you needed to think through the matter more, and would work to find solutions that that help everyone follow their conscience and still join in fellowship, etc.—wouldn't that be a good church? Likewise, if you had discussions with that other family and came to understand why they are more concerned about the virus than you are, so that even if you ultimately still disagree you know how you can help bear their burden and/or gently challenge them in loving ways—wouldn't it be good for you to face up to your responsibility to love them like that?

The alternative is to believe we are so right and others are so wrong (they are so obviously deceived that we can only have scorn for their decisions) that the best we can do when we encounter them at church is keep our head down and avoid any meaningful fellowship. Perhaps this preserves some peace sometimes, but it isn't really what we ought to desire in a church.

A personal story: Yesterday at my church, a family that has been absent for a year showed up. I noticed them as they walked up the street toward the front door, and I greeted them. I told them I was glad to see them. Happily, they took a chance and explained that they'd stayed away due to COVID but were coming back now that the adults were fully vaccinated. They asked about my COVID/church decisions, and I explained my thinking (I've been in church every week except once when we stayed away voluntarily because we'd been exposed elsewhere in town). They seemed to appreciate that, and I asked them more about their concerns. They have a strong social conscience and mom and dad both have public-service jobs that require contact with vulnerable people, plus there's an ailing grandfather in the picture, and they felt duty-bound to stop attending worship for a while. Now, that is not a choice I think I would have made, for reasons they and I might discuss sometime, but rather than silently judge them or scoff at their decision I now can understand them better. Plus I know how to help bear their burden. They're still a bit leery of spending the morning inside our building, and of sending their daughter to my Sunday school class where the kids of course remain unvaccinated, and if I can make them feel a bit more comfortable by reminding my students about their masks or something of that sort, I'm glad to do it. It's a little bit of burden-sharing, and a significant kindness to them, even if I personally suspect it won't make much difference in actual virus protection.

My point is that I've never been particularly close to that family even though I've taught their kids, but after yesterday's talk at church—which did not shy away from COVID despite some differing concerns—I feel closer to them than before. That's good. That should be happening when the church meets together.

I understand and agree with what you've written. Thank you Jack.
 

Harrison

Puritan Board Freshman
The issue is that I don't want to be made to feel like I am the problem when I don't believe that I am. We know couples in church who are terrified and who refuse to come to church even though that are relatively young, without kids, and in great health. Regardless, that's their choice. When does the fear of unvaccinated individuals become an unwarranted fear? Should we not seek to convince our fellow believers that they are in no danger? I mean, I cannot really say for certain that they are/are not. But to avoid fellowship in the church week after week, month after month, until you're certain that most others in the church are vaccinated doesn't seem okay. Also, I don't think I should be made to feel guilty as if I am the reason why they cannot come to church because I am not vaccinated.
I wonder if these "terrified" church avoiders understand God's sovereignty?
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
The issue is that I don't want to be made to feel like I am the problem when I don't believe that I am. We know couples in church who are terrified and who refuse to come to church even though that are relatively young, without kids, and in great health. Regardless, that's their choice. When does the fear of unvaccinated individuals become an unwarranted fear? Should we not seek to convince our fellow believers that they are in no danger? I mean, I cannot really say for certain that they are/are not. But to avoid fellowship in the church week after week, month after month, until you're certain that most others in the church are vaccinated doesn't seem okay. Also, I don't think I should be made to feel guilty as if I am the reason why they cannot come to church because I am not vaccinated.
Any fear that keeps you from church because "you might get sick" is an unreasonable fear: God commands His people to assemble. Ours is to obey, and if He send a pestilence to sicken us while we're obeying, at least we're obeying, and we know that He does all things well. God can just as easily keep us well while we obey as sicken us while we take every precaution known to man.
It is specious to say that we are tempting God if we run a risk in order to obey. God requires obedience in spite of risk, and will not hold us vain tempters of Himself if we suffer danger in order to obey.
Those who from fear will not assemble show that they do not believe that God will honor those who honor Him. They fear the wrong thing: God is to be feared more than any other danger and respected more than any other dignity.
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
Any fear that keeps you from church because "you might get sick" is an unreasonable fear: God commands His people to assemble. Ours is to obey, and if He send a pestilence to sicken us while we're obeying, at least we're obeying, and we know that He does all things well. God can just as easily keep us well while we obey as sicken us while we take every precaution known to man.
It is specious to say that we are tempting God if we run a risk in order to obey. God requires obedience in spite of risk, and will not hold us vain tempters of Himself if we suffer danger in order to obey.
Those who from fear will not assemble show that they do not believe that God will honor those who honor Him. They fear the wrong thing: God is to be feared more than any other danger and respected more than any other dignity.
Really great response, thank you.
 

JonC

Puritan Board Freshman
Seems like it would be contrary to HEPA. I understand if you are going out of the country.....but who knows what the future holds.
 
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