On Tuesday the bishops appearing before the parliamentary health committee said they had tested the vaccine privately and were shocked to find it was laced with a birth control hormone called beta human chorionic gonadotropin.
“We are calling on all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign because we are convinced it is indeed a disguised population control program,” said Bishop Paul Kariuki, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ health committee.
The tangle began in March, when bishops became suspicious about the vaccine, which was targeted at women in the reproductive ages of 14 to 49, and excluded boys and men.
An ordinary tetanus shot can protect a person for 10 years, with a booster available for those who have suffered an injury.
The bishops also wondered why the campaign was being rolled out in phases and in secrecy.
“To our surprise, the Ministry of Health confirmed it had not tested the vaccine, having trusted it, since it originated from WHO (World Health Organization), a credible organization in matters of health,” said Kariuki.
The government insists the vaccine is safe. So too does the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The two groups issued a statement saying the vaccine, which has been used by 130 million women in 52 countries, is safe.
“These allegations are not backed up by evidence, and risk negatively impacting national immunizations programs for children and women,” the WHO and UNICEF statement said.
The government began providing the shots in October 2013.