While I generally hate needles, I was thrilled to take a coronavirus vaccine today.
And while I am excited about this little injection, I am also proud of fulfilling my obligation by taking the vaccination.
Healthcare professionals have a further responsibility to live healthy and safe lives as an example to the general population. Just as I am careful to wear a helmet when I ride my bike and a seat belt when I drive my car, I receive my vaccinations—for coronavirus, flu, and other communicable diseases—to show the general public that this is the safe thing to do.
As an active member of my community, I owe the hundreds of families living nearby to be a good neighbor. Whether or not a person remains asymptomatic when infected with coronavirus, by preventing myself from being a carrier, I can ensure that the other families on my street will be safe. By vaccinating, I also ensure that local businesses will not be forced to close due to rising numbers of infection.
As a father, I have a responsibility to ensure that my children will not be infected so that their school can stay open and they can continue their studies. Vaccinating also allows me to continue working in my office and to provide for my family.
As a son, I know how badly my parents miss me. As a grandson, I know how badly I want to visit my grandma at her assisted living facility. The thought of seeing them again after nearly a year is tremendously exciting but this can only be done safely after receiving my vaccine.
As a truth-seeker, I must admit that I am often cautious around social media and seek to independently verify many of the “facts” that other people take for granted. That is why I personally contacted my colleagues who run the infectious disease services at Harvard Medical School as well as Israeli experts in the field to make my own informed decisions. The recommendations to vaccinate were unanimous from the world’s experts.
As a Jew, I am proud to fulfill my obligation by receiving the Coronavirus vaccination. The mitzvah—a biblical commandment—of protecting one’s life by taking this vaccination has been declared by authorities in Jewish law from across the spectrum whether Ashkenazi (Harav Chaim Kaniefsky Shlita), Hassidic (Harav Asher Weiss Shlita), or Sephardi (Harav Shalom Cohen Shlita). The Israeli Chief Rabbis have further noted the biblical commandment inherent in vaccination. There is nothing more precious in Jewish law than human life.
So while I generally try to avoid getting getting poked by sharp objects, I am proud to fulfill my obligation by vaccinating against the coronavirus.
And no, I didn’t grow a third arm or have any irreversible and life-threatening adverse reaction to the shot...but thanks for checking in on me just to make sure!
Jacob L. Freedman, MD, is a psychiatrist and a business consultant based in Jerusalem, Israel. After completing his training as an award-winning chief resident at Harvard Medical School, he and his wife made Aliyah with their family. His new book, Off The Couch, is available from Menucha Publishers and Dr. Freedman can be most easily reached via his website: drjacoblfreedman.com