The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops recently issued a press statement on the nationwide tetanus vaccination campaign. Though the bishops emphasize that “health service delivery forms an integral part of evangelization for the Catholic Church,” they are deeply suspicious of the new campaign for one reason: they believe the vaccines might be laced with sterilizing drugs. The vaccination campaign, then, might be a covert attempt at population control.

The bishops explain the historical basis for their argument, stating:

“We are not convinced that the government has taken adequate responsibility to ensure that Tetanus Toxoid vaccine (TT) laced with Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG) sub unit is not being used by the sponsoring development partners. This has previously been used by the same partners in Philippines, Nicaragua and Mexico to vaccinate women against future pregnancy. Beta HCG sub unit is a hormone necessary for pregnancy.

When injected as a vaccine to a non-pregnant woman, this Beta HCG sub unit combined with tetanus toxoid develops antibodies against tetanus and HCG so that if a woman’s egg becomes fertilized, her own natural HCG will be destroyed rendering her permanently infertile. In this situation tetanus vaccination has been used as a birth control method.”

Vaccination campaigns can obviously be used for good, and  there is a great need for them in developing countries. Tetanus is a serious illness. According to the BBC, a newborn child dies every day of the infection.

The Kenyan bishops allege that the current vaccination program bears all the hallmarks of the previous sterilization campaigns in Nicaragua, Mexico, and the Philippines. They call for more oversight of the program, and ask that the heads of the health program allow the Church to investigate. In the meantime, Catholic priests have been telling their congregations to boycott the vaccines.

At present, there is no solid evidence that the vaccines are tainted. Kenya’s health minister  dismissed the bishops’ suspicions and called it a “safe certified vaccine.” The statement by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, however, reflects the deep distrust of health programs with regards to life issues.

The health ministry of Kenya should recognize the legitimate concerns of Catholic leaders and do everything in its power to assuage those concerns (if, in fact, there is nothing to hide).  

As the bishops summarize:

“The Catholic Church acknowledges that maternal and neonatal care is imperative in prevention of death; the Church therefore maintains that adequate and clear information is provided to the general public to avoid misinformation and propaganda in regard to the vaccine. The sanctity of Life and the dignity of the human person must always be priorities in health care and the Catholic Church, in the absence of proper and adequate information will not shy away from raising moral questions on matters affecting human life.”