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Encouraging New Data Shows That 7 out of 10 Muslims in the UK Have Already Taken or are Willing to Take the Vaccine

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England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said on Monday he would be meeting medical leaders from different ethnic groups, “to share experiences and share how we can work out how to make sure people are getting absolutely accurate information that makes clear that the risks of the vaccine are massively lower than the risks of getting this infection”. 

Recent news has dominated mainstream media stating that people from ethnic minorities in the UK are reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The majority of Muslims in the UK are from black, Asian, and ethnic minority backgrounds. In particular, a report from the Royal Society for Public Health UK (RPSH) published in December 2020 found that people from ethnic minority backgrounds were less likely to want to take the COVID-19 vaccine compared to their white counterparts. However, their data only had 199 adults from ethnic minority backgrounds out of 2076 adult respondents. 

The new encouraging data compiled by Muslim Census, which is an independent organisation, has 1,026 respondents who are Muslim. Their results show that: “56% of the 1,026 participants were willing to take the vaccine, with 15% having already taken it, 16% remaining unsure, and finally 13% being reluctant. Plainly, in relation to the Royal Society for Public Health (RPSH) survey published in December, this is a huge shift in a positive direction.”

The highest level of reluctance came from Black Muslims, of which 42% chose ‘no’ or ‘not sure’. For the other ethnicities, Muslim Census recorded 34% Indian, 30% Pakistani, 22% Bangladeshi, and 20% Arab that selected ‘no’ or ‘not sure.’ 

The 3 out of 10 Muslims who were reluctant to take the vaccine cited the top reasons for being so were fears about side effects. It’s important to remember there are many non-Muslim anti-vaxxers in the UK purposely trying to derail the COVID-19 vaccination programme by spreading false news and incorrectly informing people that COVID-19 is a hoax. This disinformation is infecting and thriving on social media, which in turn particularly targets the Muslim community. 

More than 15.9 million people in the UK have now had their first coronavirus vaccine. But according to GP Online, 7.8% of vaccines have been distributed to ethnic minority communities. It’s also important to note that in the UK, Muslims have the youngest age profile of all religious groups. And younger people are not in the top priority categories, so there could be a surge in COVID-10 vaccinations in the Muslim community once it’s available to everyone.

The COVID-19 vaccines being used in the UK, namely the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, do not contain animal products including pork, alcohol, or human embryos. The Chair of Mosques and Imam National Advisory Board, Qari Asim MBE, has also reiterated the vaccines in the UK are halal.

Muslim Census’s new data helps to provide a more up-to-date accurate representation and shows the efforts being put in by Muslim organisations in the wider community are having a positive impact. The Muslim Census stated that: “Our data outlines a much less strong resistance to vaccination amongst the Muslim population than has previously been suggested.”

The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) and Muslim Council of Britain are working hard to educate and encourage black, Asian, and ethnic minority Muslims to take the vaccine. 

The Muslim Council of Britain’s new Secretary-General, Zara Mohammed, who is the first woman to head Britain’s biggest Muslim umbrella organisation, has stated that her top focus will be working on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Birmingham’s Al-Abbas Islamic Centre has also become the first in the UK to open as a COVID-19 vaccination centre. Located in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, the mosque is able to vaccinate up to 500 people a day. The Imam of Al-Abbas Islamic Centre, Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, stated that: “It will send a strong message to our Muslim brothers and sisters. We are doing this to say a big ‘no’ to fake news and a big ‘yes’ to the vaccine. Muslim scholars advise us to get the vaccine because the sanctity of life is important in Islam.”

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said on Monday he would be meeting medical leaders from different ethnic groups, “to share experiences and share how we can work out how to make sure people are getting absolutely accurate information that makes clear that the risks of the vaccine are massively lower than the risks of getting this infection”. 

The UK government needs to ensure it consistently works closely with Muslim organisations to increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations in the Muslim community.

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