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Union calls on nurses to boycott administering tetanus vaccine

Health & Science

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) on Thursday called on its members to boycott administering the ongoing controversial tetanus vaccination until its safety is addressed.

The vaccination which is aimed at tackling tetanus among children has received a setback after the Catholic Church told its congregations to boycott it claiming that it causes infertility in women.

Addressing a press conference in Kisumu, the Secretary General of Knun Seth Panyako also called on the government to suspend the vaccination immediately and institute an independent body to verify the safety of the drug being used.

''The questions being raised by the Catholic Church who is major player in the health sector are genuine and needs to be addressed. The government should institute an independent body to verify drug's safety,'' he said.

The Catholic Church insists that the vaccine contains an antigen – an agent that triggers antibody production by the body's immune system which could cause sterility in women.

The Ministry of Health however, says the vaccine is safe and has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).

''Should the vaccine display such grave effects, the nurses can be taken to courts by affected persons. We want to avoid this by boycotting it now. Why is the government in a hurry but there is no tetanus outbreak?'' posed Panyako.

Panyako challenged the government to come clean on the vaccine saying the questions being raised if at all are true could affect mothers across the country and urged the nurses to ensure non-professionals do not administer the jab.

This comes barely a week after doctors joined the call to suspend the jab until pertinent questions raised are addressed.

The Chairman of Kenya Medical Association Elly Opot said medical professionals should be incorporated in the committee formed to ascertain the safety of the vaccine noting that the controversy over the safety of the tetanus toxoid vaccine is causing confusion.

''The confusion among the public could erode their confidence on other routine immunisation. This is the time to address the issues,'' he said in a statement.

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