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Hundreds of people were vaccinated at the weekend at a pop-up clinic set up by the East London mosque to encourage Muslims to be inoculated amid widespread concerns about the jab.
The mosque, which serves the biggest Muslim community in the UK, said the aim of the clinic was to reassure people who were hesitant about taking the vaccine. Recent studies have shown significantly lower than average take-up among BAME people.
Most of those attending the London Muslim Centre, next door to the mosque, on Saturday afternoon were Muslims aged over 68, and many were supported by younger relatives. Among the first to receive a shot was Khoyrun Nessa, 76, who was accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruzina.
The clinic got the go-ahead from public health officials late on Thursday, giving the mosque only one day to promote it to local residents. “We used the devices which usually allow people to hear the call to prayer in their homes to urge people to come and get vaccinated,” said Asad Jaman, who spearheaded the project.
Dilowar Hussein Khan, a director of the mosque, said: “In consultation with Islamic scholars and medical professionals, we firmly believe that vaccination is the best way to combat the pandemic and return to our normal way of life.
“In Islam, preservation of life is of the utmost importance, so we want to do our part to reassure those who are hesitant about vaccination.”
The clinic was run by AT Medics, a local partnership of GPs from Whitechapel Health Centre with the East London mosque and Tower Hamlets council. The GP team includes bilingual staff to communicate effectively with the local community.
Among concerns people have raised is whether the vaccines are medically safe and whether they contain products forbidden to followers of particular religions. Medical experts and faith and community leaders have offered reassurances that the vaccines contain no animal or egg products, and are vegan, halal and kosher.
“There are quite a few factors in play,” said Jaman. “Some irresponsible people are scaring people in the community, saying the vaccines are not halal. But the biggest factor is concern about possible long-term side-effects, particularly as a lot of people in our community already have underlying health conditions.
“We are telling the people that preserving life if the utmost obligation for a Muslim, and taking the vaccine means you are not only helping yourself but you are helping the whole community.
“Faith leaders, community leaders, local businessmen, GPs – anyone who has any influence has an obligation to do everything they can to encourage people to be vaccinated.”
Omar Din, chief executive officer of AT Medics, said local GPs had experienced the “challenges of patient vaccination uptake” in the area. “We hope this initiative will encourage more patients to come forward when invited.”
More pop-up clinics in the borough are expected to be organised in the coming weeks to make sure people have easy access to vaccinations in trusted community settings.
John Biggs, the mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “With dangerous misinformation circulating about the vaccine, grassroots initiatives like this help to build confidence and reduce vaccine hesitancy.”
Tower Hamlets council is also holding Q&A sessions in different languages with residents, and making videos directed at particular faith and ethnic groups. It has deployed teams of “Covid ambassadors” to talk to people on the streets about the virus and the vaccine.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Hundreds get Covid vaccine at East London mosque’s pop-up clinic | Society