Somali refugee in Kenyan camp (58074)

Leaders of Kenya’s Catholic Church are attempting to derail a vaccination campaign that would protect 2.5 million, women from a life-threatening nerve disease.

Calling it a stealth birth-control campaign, clerics have been telling parishioners to refuse the shot that would immunize women against tetanus. It would also reduce the number of babies who die of neonatal tetanus. Some 550 Kenyan babies died of the disease in 2013 and, according to UNICEF, 8,000 babies worldwide died of neonatal tetanus in 2010.

Tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that affects the nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of the jaw and neck muscles. Tetanus can interfere with breathing, posing a risk of death.

Cases of tetanus are rare in the United States, where vaccinations are given widely. The incidence of tetanus is much higher in less-developed countries. Approximately a million cases occur worldwide each year. Treatment focuses on managing complications until the effects of the tetanus toxin resolve.

A statement signed by all 27 Kenyan bishops attacked the campaign, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, calling it “a disguised population control program.”

John Cardinal Njue, archbishop of Nairobi, urged women in the country to keep away from the vaccine. Certain “powers” with a hidden agenda were behind the vaccine campaign, he warned.

According to the religious leaders, the proposed vaccine is laced with beta-HCG hormone, which, they claim, causes infertility and multiple miscarriages in women.