Special Covid vaccination clinic to be held at Milton Keynes mosque to encourage members of BAME community to get the jab
Members of the city's BAME community are invited to get their Covid jab at an MK mosque on Friday.
Doctors and mosque committee members have joined forces to organise the unusual initiative, which is designed to address the "significant hesitancy" about the vaccinations among some ethnic groups.
People can call to book an appointment then walk into Bletchley's Granby Islamic Centre, otherwise known as Zainabia Mosque, between 3pm and 8pm on Friday. They will be given the jab by a health professional.
The offer is open to anybody over the age of 40, or people aged over 30 who are carers, NHS workers or in an risk category.
Data from Public Health England shows uptake of the vaccine for BAME people is at least 10 per cent lower across almost every age group.
Last weekend, in a bid to dispel the myths and misinformation responsible for people shunning the jab, MK health officials organised a webinar. It was attended by local BAME leaders and it is hoped they will now spread the message among their communities.
Dr Hamid Manji, who works in the Covid intensive care ward at MK hospital, said the main hesitancies were due to religion and fears that the vaccine contained animal products or alcohol.
"The fears are unfounded. There are no animal products in the vaccine. And, while it does contain a tiny bit of ethanol, there is actually more ethanol in bread," he told the Citizen.
Dr Manji, who featured in last year's Ross Kemp documentary about Covid at MK hospital said there had also been concerns among the Islamic community that having the vaccine would break their Ramadan fast.
"All schools of Islamic thought say a vaccine would not break the fast," he said.
But, though the vaccine clinic is to be held in a Mosque, it is not just aimed at the Islamic community. Anybody who lives in MK can book a slot and attend, particularly people who may have slipped through official net of NHS appointments.
All people have to do is call the booking line on 07874 869186 and give their name, date of birth and NHS number if they have it. The lines are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm daily.
Dr Manji said: "Generally in Milton Keynes out vaccine uptake has been good. 37,000 vaccines have been given at the hospital alone. But there is a significant hesitancy among some groups of people here.
"To all these people we want to say that the vaccine is safe and it will protect people from Covid, not only individually but throughout their entire community."
Some, not all of them, come from the Muslim community. The three BAME groups with the highest hesitancy are Afro-Caribbean Muslims and Easter European.
For more information about the vaccine, you can visit https://www.blmkccg.nhs.uk/.
The address of the mosque is Granby Islamic Centre, Peverel Drive, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK1 1NW.