Buddhist Perspectives on COVID-19 Vaccination
According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s “Immunizations and Religion” project, the majority of Buddhists accept and receive vaccinations, with no significant theological opposition to them.
The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, a Buddhist monk and the president of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, reflected on the many ways that Buddhist teachings encourage vaccination. He said, “The guidance is always to put the health of the community first. The first precept of Buddhism is the principle of nonviolence, and the extension of that is non-harming. Whenever you are making decisions or designing a policy, you always have to ask yourself, ‘if I don’t partake in the process, am I creating tendencies of harm?’ That’s something that drives our day-to-day decision-making. So any scientific advancement that promotes health and wellbeing is something that the Buddhists seriously encourage.”
The Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, documented himself getting vaccinated and encouraged everyone to receive the vaccine once it was available.
Others have turned to Buddhist monks to help encourage confidence in the vaccine. In Thailand, Theravada Buddhist monks were one of the first groups to be vaccinated during the country’s vaccination campaign, as the government hoped that people would place more trust in the vaccine once they’d seen these spiritual leaders receive it.