A  Belarus native, Christian poet, member of the Union of Belarusian Writers Sergei Saponenko, who currently lives in Sacramento, California, shared with “Slavic Sacramento” his experience of the COVID-19 vaccination.

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Slavic Sacramento: Tell us how the vaccination process went, what COVID-19 vaccine you got?

Sergei Saponenko: I was vaccinated with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. I wanted to get it because Israel purchased only it and vaccinated almost everyone over 16 years old. I had a choice. Maybe because in August 2020 I volunteered to test the COVID-19 vaccines, but my services were not needed, unfortunately. This year I received invitations to get vaccinated simultaneously from three places, I chose the one that suited me best.

Vaccination was taking place in a large hall, in my estimation it was as large as a Costco store. One person at a time was allowed in, or two if they are married couples, or people with disabilities. At the entrance of the building a lady with a “pistol” was standing and aimed at everyone’s forehead who was coming up to the door, measuring the temperature, as I understood. Then we came into the corridor, where 4-6 people, falling out the questionnaire. I downloaded my questionnaire and filled it out at home. It included questions about SSN, ID, health insurance, allergies and health conditions on the day of vaccination, as well as a vaccination consent. Then one or two of us were escorted into a huge hall, which had 14 vaccination lines, they looked like cash registers in a store, 4, 5 of them were working. In total, there were about 20 people in the hall.
After the vaccine shot, I was asked to make an appointment for the second one and sit for 15 more minutes, apparently to make sure I didn’t get an allergic reaction.

Slavic Sacramento: How do you feel after the vaccination?

Sergei Saponenko: Just how I felt before vaccination. I am even a little worried about this, because in order for a stable immunity to develop after the vaccine, it is necessary to have the disease in a mild form after the vaccination. I know this because every year I get the flu shot. However, many people get COVID-19 asymptomatically. Maybe me too.

Slavic Sacramento: How should Christians, people of faith, relate to vaccination, in particular the COVID-19 vaccine?

Sergei Saponenko: I was studying in the 1970s in a boarding school for children with physical disabilities; there were 320 children in it, half of them became paralyzed because they had had polio in the early 1960s, after which most of the children died, the rest remained paralyzed for the life long period, many of them went to a special school, because the disease also affected their mental abilities. So, thanks to vaccination by the mid-1960s polio was defeated. By the way, about this a film “Step” was shot in 1988 with starring Leonid Filatov.

The first vaccines were developed by dedicated ministry Christians such as Louis Pasteur.
Christians who believe that people are vaccinated and go to doctors because they are afraid of getting sick and dying should throw out half of the New Testament, because “the beloved physician Luke” was following Paul everywhere because of his illness.

If Christians do not need medicines and vaccines, then why did Jesus do the following: “He spit on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the man’s eyes. Then He told him, “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing.… ”? Couldn’t Jesus Christ have just said: “See”?..

I have always been vaccinated and I will keep doing it if God will be pleased, not because I am afraid of getting sick and dying, but because I love my neighbor, and I do not want the one who at some point will be my neighbor to go to death  as from the kiss of Judas.

I’m not reinventing the wheel. This is what Martin Luther wrote 500 years ago during the bubonic plague: “I will ask God to mercifully protect us. And then I will fumigate (the premises), purify the air, give medicines and take them [deliberately emphasized]. I will avoid places and people where my presence is not necessary, so as not to become infected and so do not accidentally infect others, and thus not lead to their death as a result of my negligence. If God wants to take me, He will definitely find me, and I will do what He expected of me, and therefore I will not bear responsibility either for my own death or for the death of others. However, if my neighbor needs me, I will not avoid neither place nor person, but I will go as freely as I wrote above. You see, this is a Godly faith, because it is not daring or reckless and it does not tempt God.”

Excuse me, I will now express what I think: I consider the vaccines (which prevent infectious diseases) refusal of some Christians as absolute selfishness. I will develop their thoughts: “I am saved (but for some reason I am afraid of dying from the vaccine ?..), if I get sick and die, I will go to heaven. But I do not care about the fact that my neighbor will die and go to hell from the infection that I give to someone, just like Judas.”

I believe that it is better to sacrifice your soul, even in vain, if the vaccine does not work, than someone will die because of your negligence.