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By 
Jennifer Ness-Myers
 on February 05, 2021

From a Scientist to Her Parents

Jennifer shares the letter that she sent her parents regarding their concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Letter Writing

Before You Read

Dear reader,

We’ll get right to it: Young people today are departing the faith in historic numbers as the church is either unwilling or unable to address their questions on science and faith. BioLogos is hosting those tough conversations. Not with anger, but with grace. Not with a simplistic position to earn credibility on the left or the right, but a message that is informed, faithful, and hopeful.

Although voices on both sides are loud and extreme, we are breaking through. But as a nonprofit, we rely on the generosity of donors like you to continue this challenging work. Your tax deductible gift today will help us continue to counter the polarizing narratives of today with a message that is informed, hopeful, and faithful.

The following is a letter I sent to my parents after we found out they would be eligible for one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in December. They have always refused the flu shot (even this year) and, at the time, planned to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine as well. My parents carefully considered the information and continued to ask questions over the holidays. I am ecstatic and relieved to report that they have received their second dose, and had only injection site tenderness and mild achiness.

Hi Mom and Dad,

Here are some facts about the two approved vaccines, so you can make informed decisions.

Pfizer’s trial enrolled over 10 times as many people as in a normal Phase III drug trial (over 41,000 people and counting).  The trial started July 27, so there are 5 months of healthy people (the published report checked their health after two months). Moderna is a second vaccine made with the same technology and testing.

vial of COVID-19 vaccine held by a gloved handBoth vaccines work 95% of the timethat is great for a vaccine! (It blows the flu shot out of the water!). A remaining question is how long the immunity will last. So far, so good, though.

RNA vaccine ingredients are safe!

  • NO preservatives (has to be kept frozen and used right away).
  • It is NOT made in the human cells like other vaccines (see postscript).
  • There is NO inactivated virus or proteins.
  • Here is the ingredient list (Pfizer) (Moderna):  RNA, lipids (fats), salts (sodium, potassium, chloride), sucrose (sugar).

Vaccine side effects are the normal symptoms of your body’s immune system working to create immunity.  The vaccine itself is RNA; the instructions for the immune response.  The RNA is only temporary so there is nothing left over except protection!

The best vaccine to get is the one that becomes available to you. Other companies are making more traditional vaccines, but these won’t be available for a while longer. Traditional vaccines do take longer to develop, which is why people are surprised at how quickly the mRNA vaccines arrived.

Yeah Science!!

Your family very much wishes that both of you get the vaccine. It will give us peace of mind that you will be protected from a virus that we could carry in and cause you so much suffering. Your grandchildren will be able to visit you that much sooner too!

Love you!!
Your Scientist Daughter

Postscript:

Vaccines produced in human cells derived from aborted fetuses are a common concern in the Christian community. I’d like to emphasize that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are NOT produced in human cells, these vaccines are synthetic. Another advantage of this new mRNA technology is that it will greatly reduce the need for fetal cell use.

The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines are produced in fetal cell lines, PER.C6 and HEK293, respectively. These vaccines are made in the traditional manner and are more stable, and may just require a single dose (Johnson & Johnson). If this is the only source of COVID-19 vaccine available in your area, perhaps consider this. Although HEK293 cells began as fetal cells from an abortion in the 1970s, it is now an immortalized cell line, many generations removed from the original source. Because of its wide application in medical research, the HEK293 cell line has reduced the demand to collect more tissue from abortions for research purposes.

As I share this scientific perspective, I hope it will be helpful in your understanding of the COVID-19 vaccines and your decisions surrounding it.

For further reading:

About the author

Jennifer Ness-Myers

Jennifer Ness-Myers

Jennifer Ness-Myers is an assistant professor of biology at Messiah University.  Her research in neurobiology focuses on cell signaling pathways that regulate oligodendrocyte development and remyelination.  She holds a B.A. in Biology from Concordia College and a Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine from the Pennsylvania State University.