A mosque in Newham hosted two vaccination pop-up clinics as part of the ongoing efforts to encourage eligible people across the borough to have their COVID-19 jab.
The clinics held at Minhaj-ul-Quran mosque in Forest Gate were organised in partnership with the local NHS, Newham Council and GPs from Newham Health Collaborative.
The two sessions were primarily aimed at people who had not yet taken up the offer of a covid vaccination. The attendees were invited by the mosque and came from the identified priority groups – those aged 50 and over, and those aged 18 and over with long-term conditions.
It was hoped that running the clinics at the mosque would encourage eligible residents – including those in the local black, Asian and ethnic minority community – to come forward to have their jab.
Dr Muhammad Naqvi, a local GP and Newham clinical chair for NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group, who helped deliver the vaccinations, said:
“The clinics were very successful – we had a great response from people who worship at the mosque and those in the local community, with both days fully booked.
“As local GPs, we’ve been very aware of the challenges of vaccine uptake in Newham and, while we’ve successfully vaccinated thousands of people across the borough, we are still keen to encourage many more eligible residents to come forward when invited.
“Working closely with our partners in local faith groups gave people the opportunity to raise any concerns they might have, seek reassurance from familiar and trusted voices and have their vaccination in locations they know well. Taking this approach means we have been able to successfully vaccinate people who were previously hesitant about coming forward.”
Jason Strelitz, Director of Public Health for Newham, said:
“Vaccination is our best defence against COVID-19, and over 100,000 Newham residents have been vaccinated so far. This is a great step forward in protecting our friends and families, but we are continuing to build on this.
“Holding clinics in trusted community spaces is vital part of making vaccinations easily accessible for our residents and will help to maximise our reach of protection against this deadly virus.”
Karen Livingstone, Chief Executive Officer at Newham Health Collaborative, said:
“It is fantastic that the leaders at the Minhaj-ul-Quran Mosque approached the NHS and local authority services and that we were able to work together in this way.
“Newham is a place of extraordinary diversity, and we need diversity in our approach to ensuring that everyone has equal access to these life-saving vaccines.
“We very much welcome innovative, community-led approaches such as these, and will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that everyone who needs a jab is able to have one.”
The clinics, held on Wednesday and Thursday last week (31 March/1 April), follow several similar events organised with local faith groups. They form part of the work being done by the NHS and its partners to give the facts about the vaccine to build trust in local communities – explaining it is safe and effective, there are no animal or egg products, it is vegan, halal and kosher friendly, and having the vaccine is the best protection from COVID-19 and enabling a return to a normal way of life.
Local GPs in Newham are also urging Muslims not to delay having their vaccine – first or second dose – during the holy month of Ramadan, which is due to start on the evening of Monday 12 April. To reassure the Muslim community, the British Islamic Medical Association has reviewed the analysis of Islamic scholars and confirmed that having the vaccine does not invalidate the fast.