State, church agree to joint testing of controversial tetanus vaccine

What you need to know:

  • The vaccine is being administered on women and girls aged between 14 to 49 years.
  • The vaccine has recently generated a lot of heat with the Catholic Church claiming it is a secret birth control measure.

The government and the Catholic Church will now conduct joint tests on the controversial tetanus vaccine to ascertain its safety for women.

This decision was arrived at on Monday after a meeting between Health ministry officials and the head of the Catholic Church, John Cardinal Njue at Cardinal Otunga Plaza in Nairobi.

“We agreed for a joint testing of the vaccine where the Catholic Church and the ministry will send three officials each,” Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri said.

“We shall meeting takes place on Wednesday and decide where the testing will be done, identify the facilitate where sampling will be done, the laboratory and technology to use,” Dr Muraguri added.

He described his meeting with Cardinal Njue as “very cordial”.

Dr Muraguri said Cardinal Njue had expressed his support for the Ministry of Health in the provision of maternal health and immunisation services.

“The Cardinal wants the issue to be resolved as soon as possible so that we can speak in one voice,” Dr Muraguri added.

“We agreed that in future, there will be need for greater engagement — between the church and the Ministry — before any national initiative is undertaken.”

Dr Muraguri said they had also agreed to hold a joint press conference once they are through with the tests.

The vaccine is being administered on women and girls aged between 14 to 49 years.

The vaccine has recently generated a lot of heat with the Catholic Church claiming it is a secret birth control measure the government was using to sterilise the women.

The church claims it conducted tests on the vaccine and found that indeed it would sterilise women, claims Dr Muraguri dismissed.

The church wants Kenyan to keep off the vaccine until its safety is determined.

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