Some refusing polio vaccine
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Islamic extremist rebels are fighting a campaign in Somalia to administer a polio vaccine, charging that it contains the virus that causes AIDS or could make children sterile, a battle of words that is frustrating health workers.
Al-Shabab, the rebels linked to al-Qaida, have discouraged many parents from getting their children inoculated against polio, a disease that is an incipient problem in this Horn of Africa nation long plagued by armed conflict and disease, according to health workers who spoke to The Associated Press.
The al-Shabab extremists have been pushed out of virtually all of Somalia’s cities and face continued military pressure from African Union and government troops. Health workers are gaining access to more children to give the life-saving polio vaccine.
But some mothers and fathers are refusing the inoculation, apparently heeding the advice of the Islamic militants who warn that the vaccination exercise is part of a foreign conspiracy to kill or weaken Somali children.