Catholic faithful in Kenya are confused by the advice they have been getting from otherwise credible sources since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic a year ago. This came to light recently when the Ministry of Health rolled out a Covid-19 vaccination drive in the country.
The government has started inoculating frontline workers, who include medics, the police and teachers. That will be done after some doses meant for regions outside Nairobi are dispatched.
However, rather than this being welcomed, we see growing resistance against the vaccine — among health professionals and the Catholic Church in particular.
The Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA) became the latest group to express its reservations about the vaccine. In a statement, KCDA advised Kenyans not to take the vaccine, arguing that it is not necessary.
To them, the proven safe, affordable and effective ways of controlling the spread of the coronavirus are wearing a face mask, mass testing, treatment and observing all suspected cases for 10 to 14 days.
Dr Stephen Karanja, who led the doctors in making the announcement, added that the vaccine should not be distributed in the first place as it is not safe.
We should also note that, unlike other countries, where the leaders are in the frontline in the vaccination drive, President Kenyatta — who, incidentally or coincidentally, is a Catholic — was not the first Kenyan to get the jab as was widely expected.
Kenyans are now even more confused, taking into consideration that the advice of the Catholic doctors is in stark contrast to that of The Vatican. The seat of the church, The Vatican has already begun its vaccination programme, making one wonder whose advice our Catholic doctors are following.
Indeed, Catholic faithful should be reminded that Pope Francis got the jab in January alongside Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The head of the church termed the vaccine as a lifesaving ethical obligation and warned that refusal to be vaccinated was suicidal.
This is because the pontiff considered refusal to get the jab as gambling with one’s health and life and that of other people. It is for this reason that all should ignore these Catholic doctors, who do not seem to care that they are putting the faithful at risk as long as Covid-19 is with us.
They should bear in mind that the World Health Organization has authorised emergency use of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines after the jabs were shown to be effective and safe.
I’m glad that the shipment received by Kenya from India was transported by Unicef, which has also assured us that there should be no cause for concern or alarm regarding the drugs.
What all that boils down to is that Kenyans should ignore KCDA and ensure that they get vaccinated — promptly.
Kimani Njuguna, Kiambu