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As the country reels on bitterly divisive issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, ordinary residents of Niagara County are also split on the question of vaccines.

Pete de Rosa of Niagara Falls talked about it over the phone with a reporter.

“I’m a guy on the street,” de Rosa said. “I’m not a doctor, but some things aren’t adding up.” He talked about conflicting statements from the people in charge. He talked about the feeling of not being trusted with his own decisions. Of being ostracized from flying or going to a ball game. About new information that he was seeing being suppressed for the benefit of one narrative, and the lack of reasonable discussion and transparency in leaders.

All of these questions keep him from getting the vaccine and he encourages others to take a look at what they believe to be true.

“The lack of transparency from the government, from the NIH (National Institutes of Health), from the CDC (Center for Disease Prevention and Control),” de Rosa listed off reasons for distrusting the vaccine. “The lack of transparency and the suppression of contrary medical scientific opinions, which are from reputable peer reviewed researchers and physicians.”

The question is also coming to religious leaders as the number of claims for religious exemption are also on the rise.

Pastor Terry Bryant of God’s Voice Ministries in Lockport, as well as Pastor Mark Sanders of Temple Refuge Church, spoke candidly about members of his congregation coming to him with questions about the vaccine.

It’s notable that both Bryant and Sanders said they do not see any Biblical evidence that vaccines are evil.

“If someone comes to me saying they don’t want the vaccine, because they have moral considerations on how they were made? I’d support the exemption, but not holding someone else from getting the shot,” Bryant said, noting that his church is a pro-life church that believes life begins at conception. “If someone comes to me and is taking the vaccine for the safety of their family, I would support that, too.”

“Information is good,” Sanders said, explaining he does talk about COVID-19 and vaccines from the pulpit. “But when with that comes judgement and opinion, that’s not good.”

In the end though, they both said that it was the individual’s personal choice.

“I do what’s right for me and my family,” Sanders said.

“It’s not the role of the church of whether or not to take part in vaccinations,” Bryan said.

Melody Dixon equates mandates with bullying. She said she could make her decisions and is open about them. She doesn’t see anything wrong with masks or six feet in distance. She distrusts drugs that can’t guarantee long-term health. She has an immune system issue, but banks on what has gotten her through before.

“Even though I have an autoimmune disorder, I am currently trusting my immune system that came with me when I was born. It has grown stronger over the years,” Dixon said. “I think that if people keep getting the shot to help boost their immune system, then their immune system actually becomes weaker because they don’t know what to do without the booster’s help.”

“For me, its personal. There’s not enough data,” she said.

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