Forceful vaccinations

An article in yesterday’s Daily Nation  (9th Dec 2015) caught my eye.


Photo copied from Daily Nation, 9th Dec 2015

Picture from Daily Nation, 9th Dec 2015


The headline read ‘Woman links baby’s death to polio vaccine’


A mother claims that the double dose of polio immunisation lead to the death of her child. Considering that polio is an oral vaccine, the fact that the child vomited and had diarrhoea after the jab seemed to the mother to point to a connection.


I have big beef with the way the report was put together as it raises alarm where there is none – anyone who reads this immediately wonders ….would there have been a relationship between the vaccine and the death? Reporting a distressed mother’s outburst as fact can create a lot of unnecessary panic.


The other bits of the article are troubling too because of what they report……


Meanwhile a three-year-old child was forcefully immunised at Muchungwa Village, Kirinyaga County on Wednesday.

The child’s mother took off with her when she saw health officers approach.

The officers gave a chase and caught up with the woman who is a member of a sect that does not believe in modern treatment.

“We get healed through prayers,” she shouted at the officers as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Health officer Rose Gichohi said no amount of resistance would stop the campaign. So far, four children have been forcefully immunised.


Just fancy this………. you are going about your normal business whatever it is —- someone from the Ministry of Health approaches you. They are wearing a labcoat, have their badge hanging from their necks and they are carrying a blue/white cool box. You know immediately what they want even before they tell you.


You say God will heal your children they should leave you alone.

‘Upende usipende, mtoto atachanjwa’ Whether you like it or not, your child will be vaccinated

You grab your child and ran.

They chase you.

They overwhelm you.

They force the drops of vaccine down your child’s throat.


Ministry of Health officials, are you out of your mind?



  • Isabella

    Sensational journalism….anything for the headlines, yet they forget they are the fourth estate with the responsibility of correct information. Epic fail!!!

  • Tabs

    Sensational reporting on vaccine side effects can have serious consequences and should not be taken mildly – how many people were put off vaccinations by this one article?

  • Gathoni

    What if the four children who were forcefully immunized did not receive the vaccine because of their parents religious beliefs and came down with polio later on? What would we say then? One child lost to polio is one child too many.The intentions of the health officials were good and this is one of those instances where the means justifies the end. Whatever it takes, let us kick polio out of Kenya.

    • Tabs

      Gathoni – I agree with you in one thing – one case of polio is one too many and exposes other children to the disease as polio is transmitted through faecal-oral contamination. However……look at that scenario – if you force people of a particular faith in this way – what they will do is hide their children or move away everytime you have a campaign – and because of the force used on them – you create a matyrs with a cause – they will fight even more because they are now fighting the ‘devil’ forcefully pushing them on the highway to hell.

  • Mary

    We pray that this doesn’t come to interfere with the herd immunity levels for polio in Kenya;
    instead as many children as possible will be vaccinated so as to lessen the likelihood of an infected child coming in contact with a susceptible one.
    Great article Dr Mwangi.