As India opens up vaccination drive for everyone above 45 years of age, reports are coming in that the response to Chinese coronavirus vaccination is poor amongst Muslim-dominated areas in India. A report in The New Indian Express states that the health works on ground and experts say that the immunisation amongst Muslims is lower in parts of Bengaluru. A BBMP official stated that while the authorities are trying to create awareness and educate people to get vaccinated, people do not come to get the shot.
We are seeing a worrying trend of poor vaccination coverage among the minorities. Earlier vaccination programs had clearly defined social mobilization components. Not engaging with the minorities in culturally sensitive and appropriate manner will worsen the health inequities.— Dr Giridhara R Babu (@epigiri) March 29, 2021
Dr Giridhara R Babu, a public health expert and an epidemiologist took to Twitter earlier and said that not engaging with the minorities in ‘culturally sensitive and appropriate manner’ will worsen the health inequities. The TNIE report cites religious leaders who blame government for not doing enough to bust the fake news and fears amongst the Muslim community. This despite the fact that the government has time and again issued clarifications that the vaccines are safe.
Maulanas were also quick to blame the government for not issuing notifications urging people to get vaccinated while the government issued notifications to not gather in crowds during festivals.
Similar situation is in other parts of the country. An Indian Express report states that despite awareness campaigns by the corporation, the Muslims are reluctant to get vaccinated. Hazi Asratbaig, the Congress councillor of Muslim-dominated Maktampura ward, said that the Muslims are afraid to get vaccinated the way they were afraid of getting tested.
Asratbaing also claimed that many Muslims are afraid of taking the vaccination because of ‘side effects’, most of which like fever, aches are absolutely normal. The AMC also approached Congress MLAs of Muslim community, Imran Khedawala and Gyasuddin Shaikh, to get themselves vaccinated to create a positive environment, but none of them got vaccinated.
Similar situation is there in Surat and Godhra too. Recently, the mosques were roped in to put out a message to create awareness on vaccine awareness. Godhra, in Panchmahal district, has seen the lowest figures of inoculation. Muslim leaders are also roped in to explain that vaccination is not against Sharia.
Last year, after huge number Muslims attending Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi tested positive, many Muslims, especially those who attended the event resorted to violently attacking doctors and healthcare workers who went to get them tested. Some Tablighi Jamaat members, who had tested positive, also excreted in hallways at quarantine facilities as protest.
Tablighi Jamaat event was one of the first ‘single source’ super spreader event in March 2020 for coronavirus in India.