We know that vaccines save millions of lives, and that there is not a shred of evidence that they cause autism or any kind of learning disability. Given these facts, it is important to combat misinformation and make sure that children get vaccinated, through aggressive educational campaigns and legislation.
Well, apparently, Uganda has taken this principle to a whole new level.
Parents who fail to vaccinate their children in Uganda will face six months in jail, according to a new law signed by President Yoweri Museveni.
It also requires children to have an immunisation card to allow them to go to school.
The law will help the government reach its vaccination target, Health Minister Sarah Achieng Opendi told the BBC.
Damn! Jail time for not vaccinating your kids is serious business. They’re not messing around.
This new law seems to have been implemented as a direct response to a cult, which call themselves 666 (Really? Do they call themselves that? Or is that a label put on them to discredit them?), which are actively trying to convince parents to refuse vaccinations for their children.
I can’t seem to find much information on this religious cult online, but from the few articles that have popped up here and there, the Ugandan Government seems to be cracking down on them pretty hard. They have been banned from the SSembabule district, for refusing to participate in the census, and some of their leaders have been arrested for preaching against National IDs.
I am an extremely strong proponent of vaccinations. I am also fully aware that they are particularly critical in countries like Uganda, where polio outbreaks still happen, and where 70 out of 1000 children are estimated to die before the age of 5, according to the WHO. However, criminalization to this degree always makes me a little nervous. I just hope that there are no parents who do not have ready access to vaccines who become collateral damage in the Ugandan Government’s apparent war against the 666 cult.
Anyone who knows more about the context of this story, please share in the comments.