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I have some gaps in my Jewish knowledge, but it seems prudent to recite Shehechiyanu upon receiving the first shot, as it is a momentous occasion. Not just momentous for your own health, but the health of your community and in moving forward from this collective trauma.

I have read other opinions from https://www.jpost.com/judaism/what-blessing-should-you-say-when-you-get-the-covid-19-vaccine-653043, but I felt that these collections might be incomplete. Thank you.

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  • Note it is not the case that shehechiyanu is usually recited at all momentous occasions. I (and no one that I know of) didn't recite it when when I graduated high school, when I finished learning my bar-mitzva parsha, when I got my MMR vaccine, polio vaccine, etc. – Double AA Dec 24 '20 at 12:55
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    O"C 230:4 הנכנס להקיז דם אומר יהר"מ ה' אלהי שיהא עסק זה לי לרפואה כי רופא חנם אתה ולאחר שהקיז יאמר ברוך רופא חולים sefaria.org/… – rosends Jan 1 at 15:17
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    This isn't really a new question. Can anyone find records of what blessings they said on the invention of the smallpox vaccine, polio vaccine, etc.? That would seemingly be a relevant precedent, being much more harmful diseases than COVID. I looked but couldn't find any. Anyone? – Double AA Feb 16 at 14:18
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I will present a brief survey of opinions here; much (digital) ink has been spilled on this topic so I can't claim this answer to be fully comprehensive, but it should provide an outline as well as resources for further study.

In this article (Hebrew) Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon suggests a number of options:

  1. Ha-Tov Veha-Meitiv - thanking G-d for the vaccine's discovery and manufacture, leading to saving lives and a return to normality.
  2. Shehecheyanu (his preferred option) - thanking G-d for one's personal joy at receiving the vaccine.
  3. Alternatively (or in addition to one of the blessings listed above) the prayer brought in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 230:4 to be recited before receiving medical treatment.

As well, he believes that one ought to say prayers of thanksgiving (Psalm 100, Psalm 30 or Nishmat Kol Chai)

In contrast, R. Asher Weiss in this article (Hebrew) does not recommend reciting either of the blessings suggested above. The custom (he believes) is to minimize their recitation in response to hearing good news, and otherwise to only recite them when seeing something new which makes the individual happy. In addition, the fact that the vaccine causes some initial discomfort is a further reason not to say shehecheyanu.

If one is in a state of such joy that he feels he must recite a blessing, R. Weiss recommends purchasing a new item of clothing and reciting shehecheyanu, with the intention of also applying the blessing to his joy at receiving the vaccine.

Finally, R. Hershel Schachter can be seen in this video recommending that one recites Ha-Tov veha-Meitiv (as he himself did); he has explained that this is the blessing "one makes on good things happening for the general public."

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  • For a similar answer and breakdown of points see here - judaism.stackexchange.com/a/119502/22152 – Dov Feb 16 at 8:44
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    "thanking G-d for the vaccine's discovery and manufacture, leading to saving lives and a return to normality" Why would such a blessing be said when you get shot and not when it is released or discovered or herd immunity is achieved? – Double AA Feb 16 at 13:45
  • @DoubleAA R Rimon writes in parentheses עקרונית ניתן לברך כבר כעת, אך אפשר להצמיד את הברכה לקבלת החיסון בפועל i.e. one could recite the blessing already now upon receiving the news of the vaccine, but one can also wait to say it in conjunction with receiving the shot. He doesn't seem to explain why that is the case – Joel K Feb 16 at 13:57
  • "thanking G-d for one's personal joy at receiving the vaccine" Is that the first dose or the second dose or only ~two weeks later when you're actually immune? Or all three? Does one say shehechiyanu on hearing that in a few weeks one will probably not lose some money? – Double AA Feb 16 at 14:00
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    "to be recited before receiving medical treatment" It's actually brought to be recited before blood letting. Only later sources apply it to any medical treatment. (Chazal were familiar with other medical treatments, of course, but only specified blood letting anyway. Curious...) – Double AA Feb 16 at 14:16

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