UK Imams to reassure worshippers about Covid-19 vaccines

UK Imams to reassure worshippers about Covid-19 vaccines
A coordinated Friday sermon from UK imams comes amid concerns South Asian communities are particularly at risk from fake news and conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 vaccine.
3 min read
15 January, 2021
Britons from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to die from the coronavirus [Getty]
Imams in more than 100 mosques across the UK will try to reassure worshippers on Friday of the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine amid fears fake news may impede the inoculation drive.

Muslims attending Friday prayers this week will be told not only that the vaccine is halal - permissible in Islam - but that it is also encouraged to be taken by believers, The Guardian reported.

"It is our ethical duty to protect ourselves and others from harm," imams will say during the noontime sermon as part of an effort coordinated by the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB).

The nationwide message comes amid fears some people in Muslim communities may be falling prey to fake news and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine.

Dr Harpreet Sood, head of the British National Health Service's (NHS) anti-disinformation initiative, has warned that South Asian communities are particularly at risk.

Conspiracy theories shared through social media networks include false claims that the vaccine will alter the recipient's DNA and that recipients would be "tagged" with a tracking device during the inoculation process.

Other claims are religiously targeted, with some Muslims and Hindus being told that the vaccine contains pork or has not been approved by religious leaders. Pork is outlawed in Islam, while many Hindus follow a strictly vegetarian diet.

"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," Sood told the BBC.

"We're trying to find role models and influencers and also thinking about ordinary citizens who need to be quick with this information so that they can all support one another because ultimately everyone is a role model to everyone," he added.

A recent poll by the Royal Society of Public Health revealed that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities were less willing to take the Covid-19 vaccine than the majority of the UK population.

Just 57 percent of BAME people surveyed said they would take the vaccine, compared to 79 percent of white respondents.

Those figures come despite the fact that BAME communities have witnessed the highest death tolls from Covid-19 in the United Kingdom.

The UK's official Office for National Statistics found last year that people from all ethnic minority communities except those of Chinese origin had a higher risk of dying from the coronavirus than white communities.

A seperate study by the University of Manchester and the University of Sussex found that black people and men of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage were nearly twice as likely to die from the virus and white people.

The UK has one of the world's highest death tolls from Covid-19.

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