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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

False claims vaccine 'not halal' could hinder immunisation efforts, Muslim doctors warn

The Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine does not contain animal products [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 December, 2020

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British Muslims eligible for Covid-19 vaccination are being urged to dismiss false information and get immunised.
British Muslim doctors have warned that false claims over the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine being 'not halal' could deter Muslims from being immunised.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was rolled out in Britain last week, contains no animal products, unlike earlier flu and childhood immnunisation jabs, which contained pork gelatine.

Dr Salman Waqar of the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) said the spread of false information is "particularly triggering" within Muslim communities, and believes that not enough has been done to dispel myths about the vaccine.

"We are paying the price for that now because people are saying 'oh, vaccines have gelatine', or they are just not interested in listening to us," Dr Waqar said, adding that correct information must be amplified by "key trusted messengers" from within communities.

Britain has been one of the worst-affected countries in the world, with more than 61,000 deaths in the coronavirus outbreak from 1.6 million cases. The country's ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic.

The UK's Press Association estimates that around 60 percent of frontline medical staff who have died from Covid-19 were from ethnic minority backgrounds.

"As a result of that, historic inequalities and issues … it’s not surprising that, when the same channels are being used to encourage people to do anything – whether it’s socially distance or take the vaccine – those messages, they’re just not quite penetrating into these communities," Dr Waqar said.

"This isn’t in a vacuum, it isn’t that these communities aren’t playing ball when it comes to Covid. These communities haven’t been tapped into, there hasn’t been enough effort over the years."

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