Many madrassas across the state of Uttar Pradesh have denied permission to health department officials to enter their campuses to administer ‘Measles-Rubella’ vaccines to students after a “Whatsapp rumour” claimed that it could expose children to deadly and contagious diseases, and also could make children impotent.
According to the officials, Meerut has been the storm centre of this Whatsapp rumour leading to at least 70 out of 272 madrasas refusing entry to health officials. Addition to this, rumours of children falling sick across the country after injecting the vaccine has added fuel to the fire despite health officials clarifying the fact that illness was caused due to other reasons and not related to vaccines.
Vishwas Chaudhary, Meerut district immunization officer said, “This is because of wrong information being spread mainly over WhatsApp. According to these messages, the vaccine can make a child impotent.”
“Some madrassa authorities have asked students to stay at home on the day of vaccination. We have now set up teams to conduct awareness drives and to inform people that the vaccine is safe,” said Dr BS Sodi, chief medical officer (CMO) Saharanpur. Apart from Meerut, many madrassas in Bijnor and Moradabad are also opposing the vaccination.
The Uttar Pradesh health department has now sought help from the clerics to address this issue by asking them to silence these rumours. Qazi Zainus Sajidin, city qazi for Meerut in his daily sermons has asked all madrassas to allow government teams into their campuses.
“The vaccine has no side-effects. It has been tested by doctors of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia and no problem was found,” he said.
Bijnor CMO Dr Rakesh Mittal said that the district magistrate(DM) has conducted a meeting with the Muslim clerics in Bijnor to convince them regarding the vaccination drive.
Vaccination drives are regularly opposed in Muslim clerics across the world. In India too the vaccinations programs are opposed by Muslim communities in various areas. Sometimes the vaccines are also dubbed as ‘RSS Vaccine’, alleging it is an RSS conspiracy to make Muslim children impotent. There have cases of students fleeing from schools when vaccination teams arrive at schools, or locals threatening the teams to go back.