A British councillor infected twice by COVID-19 is using his experience with the disease to campaign for more Muslims and other minorities to take the vaccine.
Tamoor Tariq, 31, fell sick with the virus twice, but said his mother remained hesitant to take the vaccine despite his battle with the disease and her own hospitalization.
He said she had fallen for “myths” and false information spread on social media about the vaccine.
Researchers and community figureheads have repeatedly warned that vaccine hesitancy is high among the UK’s Muslim community — a group already disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19.
Community leaders and local mosques have launched various initiatives to combat this phenomenon.
Unfounded rumors that the vaccine contains ingredients that make it haram (religiously prohibited), for example, have been tackled on both religious and scientific grounds, with campaigners such as Kawsar Zaman, who runs the Take The Covid-19 Vaccine campaign, urging Muslims to listen to medical professionals, not social media.
As part of his efforts to encourage Muslims and other minorities to take the vaccine, Tariq, as deputy leader of Bury Council, has organized local events to help dispel misinformation and established a pop-up clinic to receive the jab in Bury’s Jinnah Day Care Centre.
Tariq, who collapsed and was taken to hospital last March, said he felt “fortunate” to survive after contracting COVID-19 again in December. His experience “hit home” the dangers of the virus to his local community, he added.
“It was an awful experience,” he told the BBC. “It hit me hard, and that shook people up. There were very few cases here then and people underestimated it, including me.”
Tariq recalled a nurse telling him last March that if he got the virus again it would not be so severe. “It wasn’t, but my wife, sister and my mum all got it so it was a very worrying time,” he said.
His 55-year-old-mother, who is in a high-risk group because of severe asthma, was hospitalized but recovered.
Nearly three months after his second bout of COVID-19, he said he can still only manage 2 km when he goes running, compared to his usual 5 km.
“I feel very fortunate that myself and my family have all recovered and I am so pleased and proud of the incredible vaccine rollout,” he added.