KENYA: Bishops Encourage Citizens to Get Vaccinated Against Covid-19

Njoki Githinji

NAIROBI, MARCH 9, 2021 (CISA)-The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has lauded government for availing Covid-19 vaccine in the country and encouraged citizens to get vaccinated as a moral responsibility for the common good.

“In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the Covid-19 pandemic, the common good calls for vaccination, primarily to protect the weakest and most exposed. In this regard, receiving the available Covid-19 vaccines ought to be understood as an act of charity towards other community members and considered an act of love of our neighbour and part of our moral responsibility for the common good,” the bishops said in a March 9 statement.

The bishops noted however, that getting vaccinated is a voluntary exercise and each person should consult their conscience before consenting to it and those who decide against it must continue to take preventive measures.

“We note that vaccination is not, as a rule, an obligation and therefore it can only be done on voluntary basis and at the discretion of an individual after giving informed consent. We therefore appeal to the consciences of Kenyans to accept the Covid-19 vaccines in the light of the assurance given by the Ministry of Health,” they said.

“…those who for reasons of conscience or otherwise decline the vaccination, must avoid becoming vehicles for the transmission of the Covid-19 by strictly adhering to the containment protocols put in place by the Ministry of Health,” they added.

As they drummed up support for the vaccine, the bishops noted that it has been the tradition of the Church to collaborate with government in rolling out lifesaving vaccines through its network of health facilities.

“The Catholic Church in Kenya has, since before independence, collaborated with the Government of Kenya to roll out high impact lifesaving vaccines through her wide network of health facilities as a critical partner in the health sector in this country. The Church notes that it is licit and ethically acceptable to receive all Covid-19 vaccines that the Ministry of Health recognizes as clinically genuine, safe and effective,” they noted.

The bishops urged the Ministry of Health to take all the necessary steps required to affirm to the public that the vaccines are genuine, safe and effective in order to encourage people to be vaccinated.

Distancing themselves from a recent statement by the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA) against the vaccines, the bishops noted that the doctors acted on their own capacity and their views did not represent the stand of the bishops regarding the vaccine.

“… The recent statement from the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA) was made by the Doctors in their own capacity and not on behalf of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops. It must be understood that those doctors cannot and should not purport to speak in the name of the Catholic Church,” they said.

The bishops also promised to a avail church healthcare facilities to be utilized to ensure the vaccination programme is rolled out in an objective and well-coordinated manner and that the vaccine reaches the most vulnerable as stipulated in the vaccination roll-out plan.