British imams urge Muslims to take Covid vaccine amid concern over fake news

Minority groups in the UK encouraged to be immunised as poll shows widespread reluctance

Muslims are being urged to avoid fake news and accept the science behind the safety of coronavirus vaccines.
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Imams across the UK are pleading with Muslims not to hesitate taking the coronavirus vaccine amid some scepticism over the safety of the shot.

The co-ordinated effort follows reports that misinformation about the vaccines is spreading fast among Asian communities.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said anecdotal evidence suggested there was “some hesitancy” among black London residents to be vaccinated.

More than three million people have been vaccinated in the UK but there is concern take up of the shot is slow in some areas.

A recent poll commissioned by the Royal Society of Public Health showed slightly more than half of black, Asian and minority ethnic people surveyed would be happy to have the coronavirus vaccine.

Imams said during Friday prayers that the vaccines are halal and from a moral perspective there should be no hesitation in being immunised. Muslims will also be told they have an “ethical duty” to protect the wider community.

Dawood Masood, from the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), pleaded with Muslims to accept the science behind the inoculation.

"It is a moral obligation upon the people that they take the vaccine to protect themselves and their family members," he told The National.

"We want to make sure people listen to the experts. We go to the experts who are the doctors and speak with them, make sure we get consultation from them, rather than going on social media and hearing all these myths and wrong things that people are saying."

Imam Dawood Masood delivered a sermon on Friday.
Imam Dawood Masood delivered a sermon on Friday.

Qari Asim, chairman of the MINAB, said the message had been delivered in 100 mosques in the UK.

“It is our ethical duty to protect ourselves and others from potential harm," he added.

Among the myths circulating in the community are that people could be tagged during the inoculation process. Another is that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can modify a person’s DNA.

Some Muslims and Hindus are also concerned that the vaccine contains alcohol or animal products.

But the British Islamic Medical Association said the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca drugs contain no animal products.

Bryan Vernon, a UK medical ethicist, urged people from minority backgrounds to take the vaccine.

"What group of people would want to put members of the [minority ethnic] community at risk of serious death or illness? Consider whether [misinformation] has a malevolent or racist source," he told The National.

Dr Harpreet Sood, who is leading an anti-misinformation campaign, said officials were working with south Asian role models to debunk myths about the vaccine.

“We need to be clear and make people realise there is no meat in the vaccine, there is no pork in the vaccine, it has been accepted and endorsed by all the religious leaders and councils and faith communities,” he told the BBC.

Meanwhile, the EU has revealed hackers attempted to sow distrust about coronavirus vaccines after a data breach at the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Internal emails from the EU medicines regulator were leaked online earlier this week.

But the EMA said the emails had been "manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines".

Several EU countries, particularly France, face high public resistance to taking the shot, recent polls suggest.

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