Hollinwood mum urges Muslims to get mobile and trash the anti-vax message

Date published: 22 February 2021

A Hollinwood mother has told those caught in conspiracy theories around COVID-19 vaccinations being used to track their whereabouts to, “chuck your smart phones in the bin, then!”

Raheela Kausar, Senior Receptionist at South Chadderton Health Centre, believes that fake news stories mostly peddled on social media are “dangerous scare tactics”.

And she is particularly concerned that older people in Oldham’s Islamic community are being put off potentially life-saving inoculations because they often receive their health information from younger people being bombarded by untruths by anti-vaccine groups.

“I have heard all sorts about the vaccine being some tool of the Illuminati or containing pork gelatine,” said Raheela, who has a 13-year-old son.

"Yet even if this were true, Muslims are taught that you can have something bad if it saves lives.

"As a health worker, I have had the vaccine and am living proof that it works and does no harm.”

The 41-year-old is one of a group of Muslims who have joined forces with people of all faiths and none to promote the vaccine.

That group includes Hindu couple Jatinder and Devinder Nath who have just received the vaccine and Dr Bilal Butt, a GP at the Werneth Medical Practice.

Dr Butt added: “There are three main groups of people within the Islamic community, those who are for the vaccine, those definitely against because of social media myth around the vaccine’s origin, side effects and usage, and people who are unsure having heard both sides of the argument.

"I tell my patients that I have had the vaccine and remind them about trust.

"You would not knock on a pilot’s door before taking off in a plane – so why doubt a doctor’s word?”

The acknowledged brains behind the Pfizer-Bio N Tech vaccine are Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, who are Turkish Muslims from Germany.

Of the 15% of people who said they would not have the jab nationally, the vast majority were from South Asian backgrounds, prompting Government Minister Nadhim Zahawi to warn that the Coronavirus “could spread like wildfire within that community” if the situation does not change.

The united to promote vaccines initiative is the brainchild of Dr Anita Sharma, GP from the South Chadderton practice.

She said: “Whilst conspiracy theories about moon landings and UFOs may seem like harmless fun, the propagation of myths around vaccines might just cost lives and we all need to ensure that our voices are heard more forcefully.

"I cannot see how you can better demonstrate that than by spreading the word about the safety and efficiency of the vaccine once you and your family have received it.

"That is exactly what Raheela, Mr and Mrs Nath and Dr Butt have done, and their example carries with it substance, truth and compassion.”

Dr Sharma plans to take the promotion of vaccines to mosques, temples, synagogues, and other places of worship plus community centres, shortly.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and your entitlement to it, by clicking here

Dr Butt also recommends the vaccination myth busting site provided by the British Islamic Medical Association here

Do you have a story for us? Want to tell us about something going on in and around Oldham? Let us know by emailing news@oldham-chronicle.co.uk , calling our Oldham-based newsroom on 0161 633 2121 , tweeting us @oldhamchronicle or messaging us through our Facebook page. All contact will be treated in confidence.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Oldham Chronicle and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Oldham Chronicle offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer, please consider supporting us financially and help Oldham Chronicle to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Oldham Chronicle