Franklin Graham Urges Evangelicals to Get Vaccinated Before It’s ‘Too Late’

By Emily Miller
The Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, sits for a portrait at his group’s coronavirus field hospital in New York’s Central Park on May 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Franklin Graham pleaded with evangelical Christians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in an interview with Axios that appeared over the weekend on HBO, saying, “I want people to know that COVID-19 can kill you.”

“But we have a vaccine out there that could possibly save your life. And if you wait, it could be too late,” added the prominent evangelist and president of the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.

Graham said his father — the famed evangelist Billy Graham, who died in 2018 — would urge them to do the same.

“My father was a firm believer in medicine. He believed in it, so he would have been a supporter — no question,” he said.

The Axios interview comes as polling by the Pew Research Center shows 45% of white evangelicals say they definitely or probably will not get vaccinated against COVID-19, a higher number than any other religious group.

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Despite those numbers, Graham told reporter Mike Allen he wasn’t sure that more evangelical Christians are reluctant to get the vaccine than other groups but said he knows that some people are afraid of needles and that some don’t like to be told what to do.

Graham received pushback from many of those evangelicals in March after posting on Facebook that he had received the vaccine and believed Jesus would advocate for it, too. Samaritan’s Purse has hosted both field hospitals to treat COVID patients and vaccine clinics.

What convinced him to get vaccinated, he told Axios, was conversations he had with Ben Carson — the well-known neurosurgeon and Seventh-day Adventist turned politician and Trump cabinet member — and other doctors and scientists, who all told him they planned to get vaccinated.

“To me, there was no question it was safe,” he said.

Graham encouraged pastors to talk to their congregations about the vaccine, saying, “We are leaders in the community, and we have a responsibility to inform them of the truth.”

Asked whether getting vaccinated was a pro-life issue, he said, “Of course, and I’m pro-life.”

“Medicine is pro-life,” he added.

franklin graham trump
President Donald Trump greets Franklin Graham, left, son of Billy Graham, during a National Day of Prayer dinner gathering at the White House on May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Graham also spoke about his relationship with former President Donald Trump. He was one of a number of prominent evangelicals who unofficially advised the former president throughout his campaign and single term in the White House.

He defended a December Facebook post in which Graham said Trump would be remembered as “one of the great presidents of our nation,” noting he wasn’t sure the COVID-19 vaccines would have been created as quickly under any other president.

But he also admitted that Trump “made plenty of mistakes — we all do.”

Among those mistakes, Graham said, was to demonize the press.

“I think it built a wall. I think it created animosity when it shouldn’t have. Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re your enemy,” he said.

Graham said he didn’t tell that to Trump directly, but it was understood between them. He also said he didn’t shy from confronting the former president with hard truths and even wondered after some meetings if he’d be invited back.

Asked if Trump would run for president again in 2024, Graham said he wasn’t sure and that it would be “very tough,” noting the former president is “older.” Trump would be 78 years old on Election Day 2024, the same age as Biden at his inauguration.

Graham said he has not been approached by the current White House administration to get information about the vaccine to evangelicals but said he’d work with President Joe Biden and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if asked.

Getting vaccinated is a personal choice, Graham stressed, but he said, “I would encourage people to pray about it, to look into it, to investigate it.”

Emily McFarland MillerEmily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for Religion News Service.



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28 thoughts on “Franklin Graham Urges Evangelicals to Get Vaccinated Before It’s ‘Too Late’”

  1. Becky Urbansky

    But I am pro-life and fetal cell lines are involved in the production of the vaccines, and/or testing of the vaccines. Count me out.

    1. Phillis OMalley

      First, could someone please expound on that : fetal cell lines are involved in the production of the vaccine. What is the source and what does that mean? Which vaccine/s.
      Second, how accurate is the Pew Research Center? We dont know anyone approached by them.
      Asking for a friend.

      1. Public Discourse ( has some thoughtful articles which discuss the use of fetal cell lines in vaccine development as well as what it means for those of us who benefit from them today.

        * The COVID Vaccines Are Not “Morally Compromised” (
        * Statement from Pro-Life Catholic Scholars on the Moral Acceptability of Receiving COVID-19 Vaccines (
        * Vaccines, HEK293 Cells, and Cooperation with Evil (

        Vaccines may be accepted or rejected for many reasons. Concerning the fetal cell lines used in vaccine development, taking a vaccine does not endorse abortion or encourage further abortions.

  2. Yes. They deliver babies alive at 5-6 months for vax research and production. People need to look into the work of Theresa Deisher, and listen to the Stanley Plotkin depositions.

    I could write a book as to why I would never allow this poison into me or my children… but I’m frankly worn out beyond comprehension. People don’t seem want the truth on vaccines… I’m deeply disturbed at this story. People have forgotten the Nuremberg trials. The history of vaccines is very, very dark. It’s not what people think.

    1. The first sentence of this comment is a lie. THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS.
      Some of the testing of the vaccines used cell lines that were descended (countless generations removed) from cells that MAY have been produced from legal abortions about 50 years ago. No new abortions have anything to do with these vaccines. If some people feel like even that extremely distant connection makes them morally tainted, I can respect that, but let’s base that decision on facts and not lies.
      There is a well-done short video on this, along with other questions Christians might have, at:
      The main driver behind the site is an evangelical pastor, and it is supported by the National Association of Evangelicals.

      It is tragic how in recent years the anti-vax movement, once mostly confined to left-wing new-agers, has infected so many conservative Christians. If we follow “the way, the TRUTH, and the life” we need to reject the lies of loony conspiracy theories, whether they be anti-vax, or bogus election fraud claims, or QAnon.

      While I’m no fan of Franklin Graham’s recent political activities, kudos to him for encouraging people to protect the life and health of themselves and their neighbors. God has given us marvelous immune systems and has allowed us to develop tools like vaccines that enlist the system to prevent suffering and death. We should be grateful for God’s gift of vaccines rather than rejecting them in favor of conspiracy theories.

    2. Marjean Gonzalez

      So are you saying we should do away with all vaccines? Go back to the days of diphtheria and polio outbreaks? I’m not trying to be snarky, I just don’t understand the anti-vax view.

  3. Noel Lokaychuk

    I know several nurses who have said they will not get the vaccine, so I guess it depends on who you talk to.

  4. “My father was a firm believer in medicine. He believed in it, so he would have been a supporter — no question,” he said.”

    Your Father was a firm believer in a lot of things, things that were blatantly wrong (Pope is a Christian, (the lost who haven’t heard the gospel can be saved…) so I would say that’s not a credible endorsement, for any thinking person that is.

  5. Shawnele Surplus

    In our homeschool we are currently working our way through The Fallacy Detective. Today’s topic: Faulty Appeal to Authority.

    Franklin Graham may be an authority on some things (for instance, perhaps non-profit management?), but whether or not Evangelicals should get vaccines is not one of them. Like the rest of us, he has an opinion – and that is all it is.

  6. Barbara Bates

    I consider the vaccine a gift of grace and mercy in the midst of what *may* be judgment. I thank God for the countless lives these vaccines have saved, including many who have not yet come to the Lord for salvation.

    Over the main entrance of the Cavendish Laboratory, the home of the Department of Physics in the University of Cambridge, is an inscription: ‘The works of the Lord are great; sought out of all them that have pleasure therein’.

    This lab produced several renowned scientists including many Christians. I give thanks for all the medical advancements God in his mercy has given us through these great men and women of science.

  7. Barbara Bates

    My sister in law died after her second shot. Tell me how safe they are . It’s your body your choice. Those who have been given the shot don’t have to worry about those who don’t because they should be safe . I know people who are having terrible side effects from the shot and what’s the long term side effects.

    1. A very close friend of my mothers died from the second shot, and I personally know 2 people that have had adverse reactions to this vaccine.

      If people feel safe getting the shot by all means go ahead, but I won’t be shamed into following the herd.

      And, yeah, funny how the vaccine is suppose to protect those who get it but they get all indignant when you don’t, you know, they are suppose to be safe so what is the deal? Oh yeah, it only works if (you fill in the blank) percent get it.

      Okiedokie ;)

      1. Darren Gruett

        Brian and Barbara, I am sorry to hear about your family and associates who have died because of the vaccine or had severe side effects. Your comments are well taken in that those who are vaccinated should not have to worry about getting infected, after all, that is the point of the vaccine.

        While respecting the decision of those who choose not to get vaccinated, it is also good to remember that those who are vaccinated help protect those who are not vaccinated or those for whom the vaccine is not effective. I think that is the concept of herd immunity, that when a certain percentage of people are protected, the likelihood of anyone getting infected–even those who are not vaccinated–is virtually eliminated.

    2. ” It’s your body your choice”

      It has certainly been startling to see conservative Christians adopt the language of the pro-abortion movement for their anti-vaccine crusade.

  8. theresa paulson

    1) The clinical trials on the vaccines will not be completed until 2023. In other words, they are currently experimenting on the population at large. 2) There is NO reason whatsoever to experiment on young people who are NOT at risk, since the long term effects cannot yet be known. Yet they are giving it to teenagers. 3). They are also giving it to people who have already had COVID and thus have some immunity. 3) They have suppressed safe, effective treatments such as HCQ and Ivermectin. Why? Because if effective treatments were available the FDA would not have been allowed to grant Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines. 4). If you have co-morbidities taking the vaccine might make some sense–if not, get informed and consider carefully. Most Americans have almost no chance of dying from Covid. Recovery rate is almost 100%. 5) You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist or a doctor to see that something stinks to high heaven.

    1. Marin Heiskell

      I do believe it is important to be informed and work with your doctor or health care provider to determine what is best for YOU.
      However, there are parts of the debate around the covid vaccine that don’t make sense when taking a step back and looking at a bigger picture. For example:
      – Recovery rate for the flu is high (and there are multiple strains); yet no one belittles those who choose to get a flu shot. Why is covid different?
      – Same question when it comes to chicken pox (we didn’t even have a vaccine when I was a kid, but it’s common now).
      – When receiving a flu shot (or other vaccinations), it is known that a common side effect is flu-like symptoms; yet again, many are encouraged to get a flu shot. Why is covid different?
      – When enrolling children in school, proof of current vaccinations (MMR, tetanus, etc) is a requirement. Heck, when I went to GRAD school in my 20s, my enrollment was on hold until they received my vaccination records. WHY the outrage over providing proof now?
      – When traveling internationally to certain countries, proof of vaccination is required to receive a travel visa. WHY the outrage over providing proof now?
      – Business owners should be allowed to determine what is best for their business and employees, including terms and conditions for receiving services or entering their place of business (such as requiring proof of vaccination or wearing a mask). WHY the outrage over business owners leveraging their right to run their business as they see fit?

      It is unfortunate that the politics around covid have clouded otherwise good, sound judgment and what should be a private decision between a patient and his or her doctor. (For example, the same people who want to see Trump get credit for the vaccine REFUSE to take it. Huh?) God gave us incredible ability in the area of science and medicine (we know Luke was a doctor!), so it is possible for both to coexist. Let’s shift AWAY from using covid as a weapon to “OWN the libs!” (whatever that means), determine who “real” Christians are (it’s about Jesus, not a vaccine), or belittle those with differing views – and get back to encouraging people to discuss their options with their health provider.

    2. 1) Conspiracy theory 2) Conspiracy theory 3) Conspiracy theory 4) Conspiracy theory 5) Yes, Theresa, you are a conspiracy theorist, and most decidedly NOT a doctor, an immunologist, a virologist, a public health specialist, or a member of any of the many skilled professionals who you so blithely contradict.

      What I notice in posts like these is just a huge level of pride.

      As if an opinion formed from internet “research” is somehow equivalent to decades of work and study and qualifications by smart and dedicated people who do real research in laboratories and hospitals and have worked among the dead and dying and been vetted and esteemed by their peers.

      Do you want to doubt the experts? Fine. Do so. But be sure to apply that SAME level of doubt to the talking points of internet strangers, which you’ve repeated here.

      I wouldn’t let you perform surgery on me Theresa, because you don’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to practice surgery.

      I will not accept your “advice” about vaccines because you don’t have the skills, knowledge, and experience to practice public health.

      1. This is nothing more than an ad hominem.
        I thought The Julie Roys Report said it wouldn’t allow this?

        And, Lea, emotional responses reflect the lack of “skills, knowledge, and experience” to prove your point, which you didn’t, you only hurled insults just like the typical liberal of the day.

        1. Sabrina S DeCarlo

          Thank you Brian Fox. I don’t see either why Lea is choosing to hurl insults at Theresa because Theresa is not telling Lea what to do. They’re both expressing opinions.

          I have no problem if someone wants to get the vaccine or not get it. If you’re a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit inside you to help you decide. And Christians are deciding both. That’s ok.

          I pray for the protection of the bodies of those who have taken the vaccine. And against those who might use the vaccine as a form of control.


          1. Theresa was not expressing her opinion, she was giving false medical information.

            With zero qualifications or expertise, Theresa expounded on the relative safety of various medical treatments and mischaracterized FDA guidelines, in direct contradiction to the counsel of those who ARE experts in the field.

            Providing false medical information is dangerous. I will continue to counter it.

    3. Theresa, the reason they want as many people vaccinated as possible is to reduce the number of opportunities for the virus to mutate into something harder to combat. It’s somewhat analogous to the lottery. The more people playing, the more likely someone will win. Except the winner is the virus. Taking the vaccine is denying the virus an opportunity to mutate into a winning variation.

      1. Additionally, as Fauci says, young people don’t exist in a vacume. They can still unknowingly transmit to someone who is more vulnerable that may not be protected. It’s not just about the individual. It’s about all the people around them.

  9. Franklin Graham should not give medical advice. He doesn’t have any background in this. People should research this injection carefully and decide for themselves. This injection has not been approved by the FDA. Those with side effects are having a hard time getting their insurance to pay for care since you are assuming the risk involved in taking this jab.

    CDC: More than 5,000 COVID-19 vaccine recipients have reportedly suffered “health impact event”

    Pfizer studies found effectiveness for two months.

    Moderna studies found effectiveness (reduced risk) of confirmed coronavirus for at least 14 days after the second dose (as of December 17).

    CDC notes that “observed outcome of vaccine efficacy at two months does not directly inform vaccine efficacy for any duration longer than two months.” In other words, there is no way to know whether the vaccine is effective for any period longer than the time period it has been given to patients.

    The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) is a federal program that may help pay for costs of medical care and other specific expenses of certain people who have been seriously injured by certain medicines or vaccines, including this vaccine. Generally, a claim must be submitted to the CICP within one (1) year from the date of receiving the vaccine. To learn more about this program, visit or call 1-855-266-2427.

    The Seychelles is the most vaccinated nation on Earth. But Covid has surged
    The World Health Organization said Tuesday that it would review coronavirus data from the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean.
    The health ministry said more than a third of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in the week to May 8 had been fully vaccinated.

    Chile has one of the world’s best vaccination rates. Covid is surging there anyway
    Chile has endured a sharp uptick in Covid infections in recent weeks, even with its world-renowned vaccine rollout and strict lockdowns in place.
    A study published by the University of Chile earlier this month reported that CoronaVac was 56.5% effective two weeks after the second doses were administered in the country. Crucially, however, they also reported that one dose was only 3% effective.
    “I cannot stress this enough — for most countries, vaccines are not going to stop this wave of the pandemic,” Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, said during a weekly press briefing on Wednesday.

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