International Mission Board officials added COVID-19 to its existing vaccination policy Sept. 8, noting it addresses the challenges of overseas life and travel requirements for IMB missionary personnel and staff members who travel overseas. Other vaccine requirements for field personnel have been in place since the 1980s.
The new policy requires IMB missionaries and their children ages 16 and older to be vaccinated prior to attending orientation leading up to their long-term field service. It also requires missionaries and their children ages 16 and older to be vaccinated prior to attending the stateside conference for their periodic return to the U.S.
Attendance at the conferences is mandatory for missionaries before initial entry or return to a country of service. The policy also requires staff members who must interact with field personnel at these two events to be vaccinated.
Volunteers serving with IMB field teams must follow the recommendations and requirements of the government of the hosting country for the volunteer trip.
IMB does, however, recommend those who are not required to be vaccinated by the host country to consider being vaccinated, given the risks associated with travel. The recommendation is designed to protect not only the volunteer, but also the field personnel, national partners and ongoing field ministries.
“We must make every wise decision, even when a decision is exceptionally difficult, that maintains our team members’ access to the growing number of unreached peoples and places around the world where vaccines are required for entry,” said IMB president Paul Chitwood. “We also want to do all we can to undergird our team members’ spiritual and physical health to maximize our effectiveness as we serve Southern Baptists in our global gospel endeavors.”
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