In an attempt to counteract messages circulating on social media warning Muslim families against getting their children vaccinated, mosques in Gujarat are creating awareness in the community about the importance of the vaccines.
Mosques in Vadodara and central Gujarat joined hands with doctors on Friday to deliver a message in their sermons about the need to administer vaccines to children. The Baroda Muslim Doctor’s Association and Muslim trust Majlis-e-Ulama came together for this purpose.
Some messages on social media —- claiming that vaccinations for measles and rubella being administered by the government to children between 9 and 15 years of age can leave them impotent —- have left many Muslim families in doubt. Darul-Uloom Deoband took notice of the messages and issued circulars asking local mosques across the country to allay the unfounded fears of community members.
An appeal from Jamia Millia Islamia says, “Measles is a highly infectious, potentially fatal disease caused by the measles virus. Measles causes sickness like diarrhoea, blindness, encephalitis and pneumonia, which can lead to death. In India, more than 95% cases of measles are among children below 15 years of age.”
The appeal also describes rubella as a “mild viral infection in children and adults” which can have fatal effects in cases of pregnancies. The appeal states, “To safeguard our children from these deadly diseases, measles and rubella vaccines are available for many years. Our country has resolved to eliminate the diseases by 2020.”
The appeal asks members of the Muslim community to “cooperate” with doctors and staff of anganwadis and government hospitals, where the vaccines are administered to children.
Mufti Imran, who delivers sermons at Friday namaz in Vadodara’s Panigate mosque, said the appeal was required. He told The Indian Express, “There are messages circulating on social media across the country, which say that these vaccines are bad for children and a ploy to render Muslim children impotent. Many illiterate and gullible families fall for such messages. So it is essential to explain to them that the vaccines are safe and important. I sent a message after the sermon today, and many mosques across Gujarat and India have done the same.”
According to members of the community, the message was given in Friday’s sermon as the vaccination drive begins from July 16. In Godhra, too, mosques handed out pamphlets and made announcements about the importance of the vaccines.
Dr Mohammad Hussain of Faith Hospital in Vadodara said, “The vaccines are totally safe, and it is an assurance from all pediatrics of the Muslim community to the people that they must not believe the rumours about the vaccines. Every year, several children die of complications that occur when these vaccines are missed.”