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Rumors Spread By Islamic Rebels Hindering Polio Vaccination Campaign In Somalia

“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,” the Associated Press reports. “Vaccination workers who walked door to door in the capital, Mogadishu, were turned away by some parents who often didn’t state why they objected to the vaccination,” the news service writes, noting, “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.” According to the AP, “Al-Shabab did not respond to questions about the allegations that they are spreading rumors against the vaccination campaign.” The news service adds, “Somali government officials say the numbers of parents who reject the immunization campaign are far fewer than those embracing it, but health workers don’t want to leave any unvaccinated” (Guled, 6/1).