Tiff over anti-tetanus vaccine now erupted into battle. International / Philippines

Vaccine Wkly. 1995 Jul 24;11-3.


PIP: Anti-abortionists in the Philippines have generated widespread fears in the country that tetanus toxoid used in the anti-tetanus vaccine campaign contains trace amounts of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to induce abortion. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that this widespread, unfounded fear has already resulted in a 45% drop in tetanus toxoid coverage during national immunization days in 1995 compared to 1994. Since up to 5 million women were not immunized in 1995, 300-400 more babies will contract tetanus and die in the year to come. Pro-life Philippines is ostensibly the creator and supporter of these newly-generated fears about tetanus toxoid. The mass hysteria is, however, most likely part of a church-led campaign against the government's population policies and the popularity of former Health Secretary Juan Flavier. Millions of Filipino women have for years received anti-tetanus vaccines to prevent tetanus in both mothers and their newborn children. Tetanus remains a problem for newborns in the Philippines where local midwives often use unsanitary knives to sever the umbilical cord at birth. Since the immunization drive was stepped up in 1990, the number of babies affected by tetanus has fallen from more than 25 per day in the mid-1980s to four currently. The vaccine currently supplied by UNICEF has been used for more than 50 years in many countries and is one of the basics in immunization. The Department of Health notes no unusual increase in abortions since 1990, the year the anti-tetanus drive was accelerated. Prior to 1990, anti-tetanus vaccination had been going on in the Philippines since 1983. Even WHO assurances that tetanus toxoid contains no abortifacients have failed to allay public fear. It is unfortunate that the people and groups behind this misinformation campaign have done so much damage to a decidedly beneficial and needed health program.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Asia
  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Catholicism*
  • Christianity
  • Communication*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Developing Countries
  • Disease
  • Family Planning Services
  • Health
  • Health Services
  • Immunization*
  • Infections
  • Philippines
  • Politics
  • Primary Health Care
  • Public Opinion
  • Religion
  • Tetanus*
  • Vaccines*


  • Vaccines