19 Jun 2021

PNG Council of Churches backs Covid-19 vaccination

8:34 pm on 19 June 2021

The Papua New Guinea Council of Churches (PNGCC) declared its support for the Covid-19 vaccination, following a conference in Port Moresby.

Papua New Guinea recorded 72 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, increasing the total number of cases to 16,933 with 173 known deaths.

In a statement, the PNG Council of Churches said, "we pledge our complete support to assist the government of Papua New Guinea and local communities to address community concerns, to work with all partners to ensure that all people are reached and vaccinated consistently.

Group photograph of the participants of the conference, themed “Am I my brother’s keeper”, organized by the PNG Council of Churches which comprises seven mainline churches

Group photograph of the participants of the conference, themed “Am I my brother’s keeper”, organized by the PNG Council of Churches which comprises seven mainline churches Photo: The Papua New Guinea Council of Churches

"We define ourselves as churches, living and working together for the common good of people and society, therefore we affirm our support for the Covid-19 vaccination and declare our trust in the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccination as a lifesaving tool which protects human from severe sickness and death due to Covid-19," said the PNG Council of Churches in its statement issued on Friday.

"Our affirmation is guided by the theology of 'Love for Neighbours' to reach out to others and the theology of 'Liberation' to reduce the suffering of our neighbours inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic."

The PNG Council of Churches said it stated also that most of PNG's health workers, essential workers, people with underlying illnesses and aged population are not turning en-masse for vaccination despite being more at risk of dying from the virus and also frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19.

The churches also note that a lot of misinformation is being circulated through the social media that is leading to hesitancy of the public to get the vaccine, thereby endangering the lives of millions of people in PNG.

The churches also recognises the negative social and economic impact that Covid-19 has caused in PNG resulting in the loss of lives and livelihood of Papua New Guineans.

A health worker takes a swab from a man at a Covid-19 testing centre in Port Moresby. Rates of testing in PNG are incredibly low.

Photo: AFP

Furthermore, the church leaders PNGCC thoroughly examined the Covid-19 vaccination from the Christian theological, cultural, social, academic, medical and political perspectives, and have specifically analyzed the doubts and suspicions that were raised.

Solidarity, Duty, Safety, Access and Communication:

Based on this knowledge as well as from the information provided by trusted medical experts, the PNGCC has decided to adopt the five principles of the Cvoid-19 vaccination which are - Solidarity, Duty, Safety, Access and Communication:

Solidarity: The PNGCC strongly affirm global and national call and support for protecting humankind and protecting the people from serious illness and deaths from Covid-19 infection and that these protective measures fully confirm with Christian principles.

Duty: The PNGCC accepts that this is the duty of all persons who are eligible for immunization to join our nationwide 'Sleeves Up Campaign' to help stop Covid-19 in PNG to protect themselves and their loved ones from severe sickness and death. It is the duty of the government to provide critical health and social support to uphold the welfare of its citizens.

Safety: The PNGCC acknowledge, based on advice from credible, recognized and reputable medical experts, the safety and effectiveness of all Covid-19 vaccines, and that countries with high immunization rates are beginning to see a decline to almost zero of serious cases and deaths due to Covid-19 infection; and that common side effects are not severe and normal.

Access: The PNGCC acknowledges that deadly diseases like Covid-19 can only be controlled and stopped by vaccinating most of the population, especially high-risk groups. It therefore appeals to all responsible departments, agencies and organizations to ensure that full access to Covid-19 vaccine is provided to all Papua New Guineans especially the high-risk group in all provinces. The PNGCC calls on local communities and their leaders to work with respected Christian organizations to ensure adequate awareness, access and uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations.

Communication: The PNGCC appeals to the media, communities, and key leaders to seek the correct information, and not to spread misinformation and rumours that can cause confusion among our communities and ultimately endanger the lives of millions of people. The PNGCC calls on the media to fully engage the national and international religious leaders and medical experts and institutions to address community concerns about Covid-19 vaccinations.

The PNGCC is a Christian ecumenical council in Papua New Guinea, and its members comprise the Anglican Church of PNG, the Gutnius Lutheran Church (affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod), the Union Baptist, the Roman Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG, the United Church in PNG and the Solomon Islands and the Salvation Army.