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NHS and local mosques join forces to encourage Covid-19 vaccine take-up

A series of pre-bookable Covid-19 vaccination clinics will be held at three local mosques in the east of Berkshire to support on-going efforts to encourage uptake of the vaccine amongst those eligible in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.

Slough Islamic Trust (Jamia Ghousia Masjid and Islamic Centre); Maidenhead Mosque and Islamic Centre; and Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre (JMIC) have joined forces with local NHS commissioners and East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours (EBPCOOH) to deliver the clinics, with the very first one going live yesterday (30/3).

The exciting initiative - a new way to reach communities - is the first of its kind to be rolled-out out across The Frimley Health and Care area which covers a population of over 800,000 people in communities from Slough in the north of the patch down to Farnham in the South. Similar initiatives may be rolled out in the near future.

The project is being run as an outreach model from the Salt Hill Vaccination Centre in Slough and therefore is not a replacement for any existing vaccination sites. 

A single booking line has been set-up to support the pop-up clinics taking place - details of which can be found at the end of this release.

Bookings are only being taken for those who are eligible for the vaccination in line with the current, national roll-out. As with all other vaccination sites, these clinics will not vaccinate anyone outside of those cohorts and anyone who attends without an appointment will be turned away.

Sarah Bellars, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing for the Frimley Collaborative, said: “Whilst we have, and continue to make tremendous progress in vaccinating thousands upon thousands of residents in line with national guidelines and cohorts, there is still more to be done. 

“This is just one of the exciting projects that we are undertaking to inspire vaccine confidence within all our communities, to reduce any barriers that may exist around accessing the vaccine and to remind people that now is not the time to be complacent.

“We know from national ONS data, that the number of people adversely impacted by Covid-19 is greater in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. For this reason, we know we need to work closely with our population locally, and we know that the best way to do this is by collaborating with local religious and community leaders.

“I would like to thank our colleagues from EBPCOOH, Dr Ali and mosque trustees for their dedication and commitment, which has enabled us all to get this exciting project off the ground which provides another outlet for people to receive their vaccine.

“Pilots conducted in other areas of the country show that vaccination sites within places of worship have been successful in increasing the uptake in the desired population and so there is good practice evidence that supports this pilot model.”

Dr Asif Ali, a local GP and clinical director in Slough, who has been heavily involved in pulling the outreach project together, said:  “As a Muslim and local community GP, whose job it is to advice, treat and save lives, I am encouraging all residents, especially those from our diverse communities, to take up the offer for vaccination when contacted.

“The vaccines are safe; are helping to drive down infection rates; and are evidentially our only way out of this pandemic which has touched all our lives in one way or another over the past 12 months.

“Sadly, I have seen the devastating impact of the virus on many local families who have either lost a loved one or their loved one has ended up in hospital very unwell after catching the virus.

He added: “Looking ahead, we are also aware that the month of Ramadan is fast approaching. By vaccinating at mosque sites, we can reassure people that having the vaccine does not invalidate their fast during Ramadan as per the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars.”

Faheem Mehar, Trustee of Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre Slough, said: “JMIC trustees and management team are proud to be working in partnership with our local NHS teams to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination programme to our community. The pop-up clinics are an innovative way to reach into our communities to ensure we are reaching the right people who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination.”

Saghir Ahmed, Chairman of Islamic Trust Maidenhead, said: “Maidenhead Mosque is really pleased to be working in partnership with the NHS enabling us to reach into our communities. We would like to take this opportunity to encourage those who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination to get vaccinated.”

Sufi Mohammad Afzal, Chairman of Slough Islamic Trust, said: “The Slough Islamic Trust would like to thank the local NHS teams for the opportunity to work together on the Covid-19 vaccination programme. Our team supports on-going efforts to encourage uptake of the vaccine amongst our eligible communities. We are all working together to ensure our community, family and friends are protected.”

The administration of the COVID-19 vaccines at all three mosques will be carried out by trained vaccinators who are recruited and deployed by the Salt Hill Vaccination Centre.

If you are eligible for the vaccination and you would like to book your appointment at either of the three mosques, then please call 0300 077 0308 between the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday – Friday only.

The service is open to both males and females and although aimed at residents from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, people from all communities are welcome.  Privacy screens will provide segregation in line with normal mosque practices.

Frimley Health and Care