Gloria Copeland, a Texas megachurch televangelist and a member of President Donald Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board, told her followers that they did not need a flu vaccination, according to Texas Monthly.
“We already had our shot … Jesus himself gave us the flu shot,” Copeland said on Jan. 31 in a Facebook video on the Kenneth Copeland Ministries Facebook page. The page has 1.5 million followers.
The Copeland family has a history of discouraging their followers from getting vaccinated. In 2013, Eagle Mountain International Church, a church in Newark, Texas founded by the Copelands, came under fire after a measles outbreak was linked to members of their church. Twenty-one people contracted measles after an unvaccinated person caught the disease overseas and visited the church.
Eagle Mountain released a statement in 2013 saying: “If an individual is faced with a situation that requires medical attention, that person should seek out the appropriate medical professional and follow their instructions using wisdom.” But people in the ministry said there was still a belief that Christians should rely on God, not medicine, to keep them healthy — the same sentiment expressed this year.
Copeland’s doubts about the flu vaccination comes during one of the deadliest flu seasons in years, according to the CDC. There have been more than 37 child deaths and over 12,000 people hospitalized with the flu in the 2017-2018 flu season.