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Being Vaccinated against COVID-19 Part of “duty to care”: Jesuit Leaders in Africa

Members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Africa have, through their leadership, sought to encourage the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program, saying being vaccinated is part of the Christian “duty do care.”

In his Wednesday, March 31 report, the Coordinator of the Africa Task Force of the Vatican Commission on COVID-19, Jesuit Fr. Charles Chilufya says that some members of the Society who received the vaccine the previous day at the Jamma Mission Hospital in Kenya’s Archdiocese of Nairobi encourage others to participate in the vaccination program.

Among the recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine during the March 30 event, Fr. Chilufya says in the report, was the President of the Jesuit Conference in Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator.

“Fr. Orobator stated that he was safe and okay after taking the vaccine and that it was his duty as a Clergy man to lead by example and to protect himself and others” Fr. Chilufya says.

In the report shared with ACI Africa, Fr. Orobator is quoted as saying, “I have taken the vaccine as a responsibility I have as a Christian to do what is good. As Pope Francis says, we need to work for the common good, to protect ourselves as well as others.”

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“It is important that as the vaccines are available, we all go for the vaccination as a duty to care,” the Nigerian-born President of JCAM says.

On his part, the Director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN), Fr. Ishmael Matambura, said, after being vaccinated, that he felt “okay and there is nothing to worry about.” 

“We need to promote public health and getting vaccinated is one of the ways to do that. It is the duty of every responsible citizen to get vaccinated in order to be protected as well as protect others,” the AJAN Director has been quoted as saying in the March 31 report.

Fr. Matambura further calls on “all responsible citizens not to give in false rumors and messages about the vaccine.” 

JCAM’s Justice and Ecology Office Global Policy and Advocacy Officer, Fernando Saldivar is quoted offering similar encouragement.

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“We have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop the pandemic and vaccination is probably the major way to stop the virus,” the Nairobi-based Jesuit says, adding, “I encourage everyone to go to the nearest vaccination facility and get vaccinated.” 

In the March 31 report, Fr. Chilufya who is also the Director of the Jesuits Justice Ecology Network Africa (JENA) says that there is need for Religious men and women “to assure populations that vaccines are safe.”

“Men and women of influence like Clergy men and women would be crucial in playing that role,” the Zambian-born Jesuit says, adding that Religious men and women “are key to stand out as ambassadors for the right message.”