Vaccine hesitancy among minorities has been noticed mostly in rural areas, according to government sources. Baseless rumours that the vaccine can cause death in a few months, have serious side-effects, should not be administered to diabetics and so on being spread that caused apprehensions in the minds of rural people. Officials visiting rural vaccination centres in western Uttar Pradesh found that those standing in the queue were not locals but had hailed from neighbouring urban areas who had found the slots available on CoWin App and Aarogya Setu.
Union Minority Affairs Ministry officials maintain that the situation is similar to the rumours spread a few decades back about polio drops where many Muslims in UP were led to believe that the children who are given these doses suffer from impotency when they grow up.
Such instances of misinformation about the vaccine have come to light in Moradabad, Rampur and other districts of western UP; Mewat region of Haryana-Rajasthan; the tribal areas of Jharkhand among other places.
“In Amethi, there was a rumour that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have not taken the vaccine as there are some problems with it. People did not want to take it. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav had labelled them ‘BJP vaccines” which also led to hesitancy,” an official said.
SP leader and Moradabad MP ST Hasan’s remarks that Covid and the recent cyclones have occurred as the government tinkered with Sharia Law (alluding to Triple talaq ban) and denying citizenship to Muslims from neigbouring countries.
There were reports of vaccine hesitancy at Palghar in Maharashtra. The minority affairs ministry has taken several measures to create awareness among the people about the benefits of taking the Covid vaccine and dispelling these rumours.