Ilford mosque and cemetery transformed into pop-up vaccine clinic
- Credit: Bashir Patel
A joint effort between an Ilford mosque and cemetery and Redbridge GPs led to successful pop-up vaccine centres where people were more comfortable having the Covid jab.
On Sunday, February 21 more than 100 people received their first dose of the vaccine at the Balfour Road Mosque thanks to a joint effort between Ilford Muslim Society and Dr Najib Seedat from Healthbridge.
The day before another clinic took place at the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery in Hainault.
The clinics were primarily aimed at Redbridge residents 65 or over who had not yet taken up the offer of a Covid vaccination.
Volunteers from the mosque and cemetery got in touch with those who are eligible and helped doctors get it out to people of all faiths.
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Bashir Patel, a trustee at the mosque, told the Recorder: "We know that there is slower uptake of the vaccine from people from the BAME community and we felt that people might be more comfortable getting the jab from their place of worship and that was the exact feedback we got.
"It sends the right message to the community and I'd encourage more centres to be opened up in places of worship in the future."
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Among those vaccinated at the clinic in the cemetery was an 82-year-old man who came to visit his son's grave and saw the vaccination centre sign outside the hall of remembrance.
He had dismissed the notion of being vaccinated, believing the vaccine to be harmful, but after speaking to volunteer Dr Mahfuj Ahmed for 15 minutes, he agreed to have the jab and was visibly moved by the experience.
Another person was a woman who had come to visit her father's grave following his recent death from Covid.
Despite having underlying health conditions, she had shied away from having the jab due to concerns about the vaccine she had read on social media.
However, after talking things through with Dr Shabnam Ali and pharmacist Imran Khan, she went ahead and had the jab.
Ilford GP Dr Najib Seedat, who led the vaccination team, said: "Both sessions were very successful - we had an excellent turn-out and some great patient feedback.
"As local GPs, we’ve been very aware of the challenges of vaccine uptake in Redbridge 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 meant we were able to successfully vaccinate people who were previously hesitant about coming forward.”
Mohammed Omer, a board member at the cemetery, said: “In Islam, preservation of life is of the utmost importance, so we are keen to play our part to reassure those who are hesitant about having the vaccine.
“There was an excellent turn-out at the clinic, not only from the Muslim community but all faith groups. We firmly believe that vaccination is the best way to combat the pandemic so we will continue to work with the NHS to help protect our communities.”
As of NHS England data through February 14, 86pc of people over the age of 70, or 23,545 people, have received their first dose of the Covid jab in Redbridge.
Redbridge and Havering have got the vaccine out to more people than anywhere else in east London.