Around the middle of December 2020, the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna became available. I was lucky enough to be one of the first recipients of the vaccine. This was only possible because I see COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
Although I thought that having a vaccine would make opening our temples happen sooner, lately, I have begun to doubt that thought.
As the pandemic continues, we are now hearing of variant strains of the coronavirus developing. The vaccine manufacturers have told us that the current vaccines should protect us against the known variants. However, it may not take long before we come across a variant strain that is not covered by the current vaccines.
That means that we will need to have another vaccine to cover any variant strain that is not addressed by the current vaccines. As time goes on, we may come across more variants that are not covered by the current vaccines.
This means that we will have to get at least one more vaccine to be fully protected. The situation may resemble what we do currently for the flu virus.
Just having a vaccine gives us some protection against the coronavirus. However, even if we are vaccinated, we need to continue to wear a mask, wash our hands frequently, and socially distance. There is no guarantee that the vaccine will make one immune against the virus. If the vaccine is 95% effective, then 5% of the recipients will not acquire immunity.
The more times the virus replicates, the more chances that a variant strain may develop. We have given the coronavirus too many chances to replicate in this country.
Due to this, I am concerned that our temples may not be able to open this year. We will have to see, but the presence of the variant strains has me very worried.
In anticipation of keeping our temples closed, I hope our temples start making plans for replacing the traditional fundraisers with virtual or socially distanced fundraisers. Last year, the BCA Executive Committee held two Zoom meetings that dealt with fundraising during a pandemic. At least two of our larger temples were able to generate donations in the six figures. Our temples need to start work on what they will be doing this year to help maintain some semblance of income.
I anticipate that the BCA per member dues this year will be less than what was determined last year. However, the per member dues amount will not be zero. The BCA continues to have bills and expenses despite a lot of cost-saving that has been done. We are very fortunate that Rev. Harada has not had to do much traveling. His decision to forgo living in the Belmont parsonage allows us to rent out that house. In the long run, we will generate funds that will help the BCA’s financial situation. However, we have to use funds to make the parsonage attractive enough so that someone will want to rent it. And, we need to maintain it better than we did in the past after renting it out.
The same situation applies to the BCA headquarters. Rev. Harada will not have an office at the headquarters building in San Francisco. This will allow us to rent out an entire floor in the building. We already have a potential renter for that floor. Again, this will help BCA’s financial future, but it will require funds to make the space suitable for our renter.
Therefore, if you have a chance to get the coronavirus vaccine, I strongly urge you to do so. I realize that it is currently difficult to do so, but as time goes on, it should get easier to get the vaccine. However, we need to think about the possibility that our temples may not be able to fully open this year.