'They're poisoning us'. How religious leaders are hindering vaccination programmes across the world

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Updated on October 25th, 2018
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REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Polio vaccinators waiting for police protection before leaving for their target areas to administer the vaccine in Karachi October 21, 2014.

When it comes to vaccination, religious leaders have not always been on the side of the angels.

While Church health programmes have often been in the forefront of the practice, vaccination has also been viewed with suspicion by fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists albeit sometimes with good reason.

Arguably, the latest example of this is to be found in Kenya, where Roman Catholic bishops have urged people not to be vaccinated against tetanuson the grounds that the vaccine has been laced with a contraceptive drug.

The vaccine is aimed at women in their childbearing years and the bishops say that it is being used as a population control measure.

However, theWorld Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, which are running the programme to immunise 2.4 million women, expressed in a statement for Christian Today their "deep concern about the misinformation circulating in the media" about the vaccine.

The statement said: "The allegations are that the tetanus vaccine used by the Government of Kenya and UN agencies is contaminated with a hormone (hCG) that can cause miscarriages and render some women sterile. These grave allegations are not backed up by evidence, and risk negatively impacting national immunisation programmes for children and women."

Appearing before Kenya's parliamentary health committee, the bishops had reiterated concerns they first expressed in March about the vaccine, which they said was "laced" with beta human chorionic gonadotropin, a birth control hormone.

Bishop Paul Kariuki, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops' health committee, said: "We are calling on all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign because we are convinced it is indeed a disguised population control program."

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'They're poisoning us'. How religious leaders are hindering vaccination programmes across the world

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