Catholic doctors in Kenya have warned against a mass cervical cancer vaccination programme for young girls, as the government accelerates plans to roll out the programme in September.
The Ministry of Health has said the vaccination is targeting the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer of the cervix. Two free doses of the vaccine – administered 10 months apart – will be given to 10-year-old girls. The vaccines will be available at 9,000 private, public and faith-based health facilities.
However, members of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association expressed concern that the vaccine can cause severe side effects, including brain damage, seizures or paralysis.
The doctors also said the vaccine has not undergone necessary clinical trials in the country.
“We don’t think the vaccine is necessary. HVP is sexually transmitted and does not make sense to vaccine everyone against a sexually transmitted disease that can be controlled through behaviour change,” Dr Wahome Ngare, a gynaecologist and a member of the Catholic doctors group, told Catholic News Service.
“The side effects are too risky for anyone to even dare,” he added.
Picture: Girls are seen walking near Kisumu, Kenya, in this 2017 file photo. Catholic doctors in Kenya have warned against a mass cervical cancer vaccination program for young girls, as the government accelerates plans to roll out the program in September. (CNS photo/Baz Ratner, Reuters).