Kenya’s Catholic Church has urged young Kenyan women to avoid participating in a government-run tetanus vaccine scheme over fears that the vaccines were laced with a contraceptive agent.

Giacomo Pirozzi/UNICEF

Kenyan bishops told a parliamentary committee that sample test results of a privately conducted analysis of the tetanus vaccine revealed the presence of a birth control hormone called beta human chorionic gonadotropin, according to The Washington Post.

In March, Kenya's Catholic clergy started raising concerns about the tetanus vaccines, which have been provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), as the scheme is solely directed at women of child-rearing age.

“We are calling on all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign because we are convinced it is indeed a disguised population control program,” said Bishop Paul Kariuki, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ health committee.

However, a government spokesman has defended the vaccine drive, reassuring the public that the tetanus vaccines are safe.

“We have explained the science behind targeting the women,” James Macharia, health ministry cabinet secretary, said. “We have embarked on the campaign to speed up the elimination of the disease among women in the reproductive age.”

The row between the government and the country’s Catholic clergy is certain to dampen an effective anti-tetanus drive in a nation with a pronounced religious culture.

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