Religious leaders join COVID-19 vaccination drive


Inter-Religious leaders Wednesday backed government’s efforts to vaccinate its population against COVID-19 disease urging Kenyans to get the jab. The leaders launching a three-month vaccination awareness campaign signed a declaration to promote COVID-19 vaccination and allow the use of religious spaces for vaccinations.
The declaration committing to promote vaccination was signed by religious leaders from the Christian, Hindu and Muslim community under the umbrella of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK.) This was done in the presence of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Rashid Aman who represented Health Cabinet Secretary Sen. Mutahi Kagwe.
In a clarion call, the inter-faith leaders emphasized science and faith do not conflict urging their congregants to shun myths and misconceptions associated with the vaccine and get the jab for their own protection.
“We need to ignore the myths and misconceptions, let us reach out to as many as possible and provide mental clarity and emotional help to those who are in need” said Gupta Kamal chairman of the Hindu Council of Kenya.
This was echoed by Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Rashid Aman who cited misinformation and disinformation as the main driver responsible for vaccine hesitancy. “I want to dissuade everyone from listening or taking to heart the infordemic pandemic. False information that you are bombarded with through social media and other places I want you to disregard this information because science is working here and science has come together with faith.” Stated the Chief Administrative Secretary.
UNICEF Country Director Maniza Zaman commended religious leaders for partnering with government to improve access to vaccinations following availability of vaccines in the country. “No matter what our faith is we share a common believe. We must do everything within our power to protect our communities from this deadly disease” Zaman told the forum.
Additionally, she called on the interfaith leaders to remain the voice of reason as trusted community leaders in the war against the pandemic and persuade the public on the importance of vaccination in protecting lives.
SUPKEM Chairman Al Hajj Hassan Ole Naado speaking on Islamic medical jurisprudence said vaccination remains a powerful tool in preservation of health, wealth and life in line with the five doctrines of sharia law.
“It is interesting to note, that vaccination fulfills all the objectives of sharia, for example in so far as the preservation of religion is concerned Muslims who are vaccinated against the vaccine preventable disease will be in a better position to uphold and put into practice all the obligatory acts of worship of their religion. He stated. “For instance today, you can’t go to Mecca, you can’t go to Hajj you can’t go to Umrah unless you are vaccinated’’ He added.
The SUPKEM chair also emphasized that based on science the good of the vaccine outweighed any negative aspects. He urged religious leaders to persuade their faithful to get the vaccines.
Dr. John Okello from the 7th day Adventist Church in his remarks emphasized’ “Vaccination is not meant in any way to destroy humanity because it is evidence based. There is evidence that when you are immunized it reduces the severity of the disease”
Chairman of the IRCK Reverend father Joseph Mutie, said the vaccination awareness campaign was being launched simultaneously in 30 counties namely; Vihiga, Meru, Uasin Gishu, Turkana, Bomet, Mombasa, Kisii, Laikipia, Kwale, Nairobi, TransNzoia, West Pokot, Kisumu, Kericho, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Baringo, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Narok, Lamu, Bungoma, Isiolo, and Kilifi. He urged Kenyans to heed to the government’s call to get vaccinated. He pledged as religious leaders they will continue to walk the talk and work with government to address challenges facing the country including the COVID 19 pandemic.
The three-month vaccination awareness campaign comes at a time when the country has received 20.6 million COVID 19 vaccines with 10.6 million vaccines being received from European Union member states. Kenya has so far vaccinated 7.6 million Kenyans as at the 7th of December 2021 against a projected 10 million vaccinations by end of December.
“We have about 22 days left to the end of this year, I believe with the kick off of this campaign we can reach this target and we should strive to get there. This means we need to deliver 13 million doses to the hands of Kenyans. Said Dr. Aman. “Most of these vaccines have a shelf life if we don’t utilize them we stand a risk of expiry” He added.
The theme of the vaccination awareness campaign by the religious leaders is dubbed; “Imani na Chanjo Ya Covid 19.’’ This resonates with the Ministry of Health campaign of “Pata Chanjo Kaa Chonjo.’