Rumors on "sterilizing" vaccines: Mistrust, bioethics and research on new contraceptive technologies
Curare 29.2006:59-70
Keywords: sterilization, bioethics, rumors, mistrust, infertility, contraceptives, vaccination, medical anthropology

##An anti-tetanus vaccination campaign in 1990 was aborted after a rumor spread through Cameroon that public health workers administer a vaccine to sterilize girls and women. Additionally, with the suspicion that the "injections contain some sort of contraceptives". At the same time, in biomedical research anti-fertility vaccines were being explored increasingly as a "family planning" method providing a long-term effective contraceptive protection. After outlining the local context creating a fertile ground for the plausibility of the rumor, parallels and intersections are explored between the rumor and international biomedical research. The article shows how the public response on the rumor has been marked by such as regional mistrust of governmental agencies and ethnic survival, women"s fear of infertility and its consequences, negative views of new contraceptive technologies and the involvement of religious organizations. Furthermore, the rumor interferes with political and ethical controversies going hand in hand with the development of anti-fertility vaccines. For example, the fact that the vaccine is easy and quick to administer makes misuse of it a potential danger. However, the remarkable quality of the debate lies in the fact of taking place before the introduction of anti-fertility vaccines into the market and the awareness created of the critical part rumors on "sterilizing vaccines" might play in it.##