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South Asian COVID Task Force working to dispel myths in the community

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool

Group of healthcare workers team up to educate people about COVID-19 and the vaccines

South Asian COVID Task Force has heard vaccine concerns around fertility and pregnancy

Some people in the South Asian community are worried COVID-19 vaccine ingredients could go against their beliefs

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – The Fraser Health Region is now seeing a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, after being a hotspot for the virus. But some communities still feel the vaccine is unsafe.

After educating members of the community about the importance of following public health orders, Dr. Navdeep Grewal is now working with the South Asian COVID Task Force to educate the public on the safety of the vaccine and dispel common myths.

Grewal, who is a doctor at Delta Hospital and Mount St. Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, says some people are worried about whether the ingredients in the vaccines might go against their beliefs.

“For example, pork in the Jewish or Muslim faith, or beef in the Hindu faith. Does it contain any products that are fetal products? There’s all sorts of misinformation circulating around about that,” Grewal said, adding she’s also heard concerns about fertility and pregnancy.

“Will it affect my fertility? This is both for females and for males. Will it affect my baby, if I’m pregnant? Can I take it while I’m pregnant or breastfeeding? Another big one is that it’s been developed too quickly, because people don’t understand that the technology and the global amount of resources that were put behind it, were what allowed it to be developed quickly,” she explained.

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The team has also been trying to dispel myths circulating on Facebook or WhatsApp.

“At the end of the day, science isn’t fun. It’s not exciting. So, people will see other information that’s out there that they tend to look at, and it’s more compelling than the science behind what is the truth with the vaccine,” Grewal said.

As a group of physicians and healthcare workers, Grewal says the team has the medical background to confidently address these issues. They have created infographics that they have shared on social media in various languages.

“Including English and Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali and Tamil. We’ve done TikToks and other short, entertaining video skits that help show scenarios about what we should be doing, in terms of abiding by the public health orders,” she said.

“We’ve had a campaign that says ‘Got my Ṭikā.’ Ṭikā means ‘vaccination’ in a lot of South Asian languages,” Grewal said.

She says the goal is to get people more comfortable with the idea of the vaccine.

“That if it’s safe for us to get it, it’s safe for them to get it, as well,” she explained.