Vaccine skepticism is a growing problem in the Muslim communities as many believe that flu vaccines contain pork gelatin.
As the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTeck COVID-19 vaccine continues, a Muslim doctor has shared concerns over the claims that the new vaccine would typically include animal ingredients.
“We are paying the price for that now because people are saying ‘Oh, vaccines have gelatin’, or they are just not interested in listening to us,” Salman Waqar, from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), told the PA news agency.
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Dr. Waqar, who works as a GP in Berkshire and academic researcher at Oxford University, confirmed that the new vaccine does not contain any animal products.
Concerns about the vaccine are not limited to the Muslim communities. The past days saw the increase of misinformation shared online including around the used of aborted foetus cells.
“There is the usual stuff that is in the spirit of anti-vaxxers, but it has picked out certain bits that are particularly triggering within Muslim communities,” said Dr Waqar.
He added that “key trusted messengers”, including imams and Muslim medical professionals, should share encouraging message to take the vaccine.
BIMA has put out a statement encouraging at-risk individuals to take the vaccine. The BIMA position statement followed consultation with Muslim health care professionals, Islamic scholars, and representative bodies from across the UK.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has also been working to combat Covid disinformation.
“The potency of social media in the context of spreading misinformation and myths is a factor affecting Muslim and other communities nationwide,” a spokesman for the MCB told PA.
“There is a very useful verse from the Koran which we have used in flyers about fake news, which urges Muslims to investigate information received ‘lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful’.
“We’re linking our faith and teachings as Muslims to common challenges we face today, such as becoming a victim of fake news and spreading it around.”
On another level, scholars from some of the most influential Islamic seminaries in the UK have issued fatwa saying that the new Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is halal.