Apr 13, 2016

Religious sect members deny children polio vaccination

Maureen Murimi
Citizen Digital
April 12, 2016

Religious sect members deny children polio vaccination
polio vaccination

Members of the Kavonikia sect in Manyatta Sub County, Embu County have continued to block health officials from administering the polio vaccine to their children over claims that the exercise is against their religious beliefs.

County Medical Officer Elizabeth Muthinji said that while some have started allowing their children to get access the immunisation, some Kavonikia members are hiding their children to avoid the exercise, saying it is against the teachings of their religion, which does not advocate for modern medicine.

Muthinji said numerous sensitization programmes have been launched in various health centres in the county targeting the Kavonikia faithful.

According to Muthinji, over 5,000 children have so far been immunised in the sub county, against a target of 9,000.

The immunization exercise that kicked off on Saturday April 9 will run till Wednesday April 13 where 70,000 children below the age of 5 are expected to receive the vaccine in Embu County.

In August 2015 health officers had faced resistance from some religious groups such as the Kavonokia sect, Kanitha wa Ngai (Church of God), Yeso Nyalo (Jesus Can) and Dini ya Yesu religious sects. They claim that the exercise is against their faith, which they cannot compromise.

Elsewhere in Kirinyaga County, public health officers from Mwea West Sub County were on Monday forced to call for police assistance after followers of The Church Of God (Kanitha Wa Ngai) chased them away when they tried to administer the polio vaccine to their children.

Mwea-West Sub County Public Health Officer James Kibande said they are targeting over 10,000 children in the sub county.

Kibande said they will make sure all children under the age of 5 are immunised, and warned parents who are against the ongoing exercise.

On Saturday, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopha Mailu assured parents that the polio vaccine that will be used in the national polio vaccination campaign is safe.

Speaking in Kajiado County during the launch of the exercise, Mailu said that that the vaccine has been tested by the National Quality Control Laboratory and found to be safe.

He said the national Polio Vaccination campaign would run in all the 47 counties, targeting 9 million children below the age of 5 over the next five days.

Catholic Bishops had previously opposed the polio vaccination campaigns over the safety of the vaccine, claiming that the vaccine causes sterility.

Addition writing by Rinaldi Khagayi

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