South Asians are ashamed of taking the COVID-19 vaccine jab out of fear and superstition, which is being spread on social media by conspiracy theories and the government’s lack of confidence.
Two months after Britain introduced the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine program, nearly 13 million people have received their first Pfizer or Oxford-Astrogenene vaccine. However, the number of South Asians vaccinated in the UK is very low, not because of discrimination, but because of refusal to get vaccinated.
It is paradoxical that South Asians, who are the most affected by the epidemic in the UK, are very anxious about getting vaccinated. Conspiracy theories on social media and the government’s lack of confidence have been blamed for the lack of vaccination in the community. WhatsApp and Facebook messages have gone viral about various vague reasons why not get vaccinated.
The most important misinformation campaign on social media plays on religious beliefs and focuses on the content of the vaccine, claiming that it contains beef, pork and alcohol, making it impossible for Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs to take it. The other fake news is that the vaccine makes you infertile or infertile and changes your DNA. Or, it even inserts a surveillance chip into you or, worse of all, it contains poison as part of the government’s massive plan to kill minorities.
Also read: Pfizer vaccine UK, SA Govit-19 works against variants: study
The prevalence of these utterly irrational theories is very high among South Asian immigrants because of their unique use of social media and their strong internal connections and connections with the countries of their origin. Just as Indians are subject to superstition and stigma, language and cultural barriers play a role.
Health workers – many of them South Asians – and those over the age of 80 were the first to be called for the vaccine, and a recent study found that vaccine rejection was more prevalent among black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) communities. Although 80 percent of whites over the age of 80 have been vaccinated, only 60 percent of South Asians over the age of 80 have taken their first job, and only 40 percent of black people over the age of 80 have been vaccinated.
The National Health Service (NHS), which is run by the government responsible for providing free vaccines, is very concerned about South Asians rejecting the vaccine, and they have begun a drive to counter fake news. They have appealed to role models, influencers, community leaders and religious leaders to help dispel myths and encourage them to take the camera on camera as a way to get approval for the vaccine.
The NHS has launched a UK vaccination team comprising physicians who can address concerns in Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi, Urdu and Sylheti as well as English. Information leaflets are also written in these five languages and shared in the community, sometimes using the same social media networks, which have become a barrier to misinformation shared by the NHS.
Also read: Lessons for India in the UK’s COVID-19 mutation
The creator and star of the comedy show, Adil Ray, has coordinated the five-minute video Citizen ConIn it, comedians Romesh Ranganathan, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Sial, TV actor Shobna Gulati, cricketer Moin Ali, London mayor, Sadiq Khan, Conservative party leader Baroness Warsi, journalists and TV personalities all endorse the vaccine. . The video has been published online and shown on national television channels and local Asian language channels.
“From the beginning, it was said that the British Asian and black communities were the most vulnerable, even with the high number of cases and deaths. But nothing really was done about it. It was very confusing to a lot of communities. We felt it, ”said Adil Ray.
Gurudwaras, temples and mosques help break down lies and promote immunizations by pressing service. Most vaccines are administered at local sports and leisure centers, which are currently closed under the country’s third national lockout, and a few temples, mosques and gurudwaras have allowed the NHS to turn their premises into vaccination centers.
More than 100 mosques across the country have been preaching the benefits of the vaccine in their Friday sermons. “There should be no hesitation in taking the vaccine from a moral point of view. It is our ethical duty to protect ourselves and others from harm,” said Kari Azim, chair of the National Advisory Council of Mosques and Imams, which organized the campaign.
Although the first wave of COVID-19 since February 2020 was bad, the curve flattened in May, resting in the summer. However, the numbers have started to climb again since September, and the second wave was so severe that at its peak in January this year it killed 60,000 new cases daily and more than a million lives. Nearly 20% of people are now vaccinated with the first dose and perhaps the UK has changed the COVID corner as the number of new cases is declining daily.