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'Church misleading Kenyans to avoid vaccination'

Health & Science - By Mercy Kahenda | May 20th 2016 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The Catholic Church has been accused of misleading Kenyans on the measles-rubella and tetanus vaccinations.

Immunisation Goodwill Ambassador Senator Harold Kipchumba said it was unfortunate that despite the Church having been involved in various meetings to discuss the jabs, it had come out with misleading information that might affect the health of future generations.

Speaking to The Standard, Mr Kipchumba said the Church, through the Catholic Church Commission of Kenya, has been writing text and WhatsApp messages to its members telling them to avoid the vaccination.

He said due to the misleading information, the team of health officers conducting the exercise have met resistance in most Catholic-sponsored schools and hospitals.

Areas that have met resistance, he said, included Nairobi, Nakuru, Tharaka Nithi, Karbarnet and parts of Kirinyaga.

CONFUSING MESSAGES

“The public is aware about the importance of vaccination but unfortunately, messages from the Catholic Church are bringing confusion that has seen some schools and hospitals lock out vaccination officers,” said Kipchumba.

The nominated senator said it was unethical for the church to discourage vaccination despite having been involved in a planning meeting that had representatives from UNICEF and WHO.

“The Church is not being truthful to its followers because if there was any observation or mischief, it should be able to come out and share information officially instead of communicating directly to the faithful,” he said.

Three deaths associated with measles have been reported in Mandera, with a total of 162 accumulated infections, the ambassador said.

According to a letter seen by The Standard and written by Kenya Catholic Doctors Association Chairman Stephen Kimotho, the Church is not supporting public participation in the measles-rubella and tetanus vaccination campaigns.

“The Catholic Church cannot guarantee that the vaccines being used are safe for use on the Kenyan population,” reads part of the letter.

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