The Catholic Church is once again locked in a standoff with the Ministry of Health over the planned rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine set to begin this week.
Doctors who profess the Catholic faith have objected to the vaccination which is set to be administered to health workers first.
In a statement issued on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta flagged off a consignment of vaccines, the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA) argues that there is no need for Kenyans to take the vaccine saying it is unnecessary.
The medics, who called on faith-based organisations to stop the vaccinations, say the only proven means of controlling the spread of the virus is wearing a mask, streaming of all symptomatic patients, treatment of patients and ensuring all patients who have Covid-19 to be observed for 10 to 14 days.
In a statement, Dr Stephen Karanja appealed to Kenyans not to take the vaccine, adding that it should not be distributed in the first place.
“It seems there is something Bill Gates has invested in that requires the whole world to be vaccinated. What that investment is remains the million-dollar question,” he said.
Dr Peter Okoth of Unicef Kenya, however, reiterated that the vaccines are safe, adding that the AstraZeneca jabs are safe and effective and there should be no cause for concern.
“Those who are hesitant will be provided with the right information and the vaccine is also not mandatory. The vaccine is just an additional tool in prevention measures out there,” he said.
Dr Okoth said that this is a good prevention tool not just for Kenya but Africa at large, and is bound to help in opening up the region once again.
Over 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses arrived in Nairobi, via the Covax facility, marking the start of Kenya’s vaccination campaign. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine landed in Nairobi Wednesday from the Serum Institute of India.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) said it has developed a deployment plan that will see healthcare workers and other essential workers, including security personnel, being offered the vaccine first.
The first consignment of 1.02 million doses is part of an initial allocation to Kenya of 3.56 million doses. In addition, Unicef is providing 1,025,000 syringes and 10,250 safety boxes to Kenya, via a global stockpile funded and supported by Gavi.
Vaccines will be moved from the central vaccine store to nine regional vaccine stores, from where the counties will collect and distribute them to local hospitals at the county and sub-county level. The first vaccination sites will be one nominated vaccinating health facility per county, the national referral hospitals and select private health facilities.
Rejected other vaccines
This is not the first time Catholic doctors have rejected a vaccine. They were also opposed to a government campaign to vaccinate young girls against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in 2019.
The medics reckon that girls in this age group, who are classified as a high-risk population, are far too young to contract the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is the primary cause of 99.7 per cent of all cervical cancer cases.
In 2014, Catholic Doctors opposed the State rollout of a tetanus vaccine targeting women while claiming that it was meant to make women infertile.