Walsall mosque turned into vaccine centre to increase BAME jab uptake

"As humans, it is our obligation to have this vaccination, not just to protect us, but protect our entire community."

Mohammed Noor Miah gets his vaccination at Aisha Mosque
Mohammed Noor Miah gets his vaccination at Aisha Mosque

A Walsall mosque was transformed into a one-day Covid-19 vaccination centre aimed at encouraging more members of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community to be vaccinated.

The Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre welcomed people of all ages and ethnicities to receive their coronavirus vaccination.

The centre was set up in response to reports that members of the community were not accepting invitations to be injected due to concerns about safety and misconceptions about the vaccination.

Mosque vice-president Tanveer Akmal said the mosque had been approached by Walsall CCG about becoming a vaccination centre in January.

The Aisha Mosque saw more than 90 people pass through its doors to take the vaccine
Fiona Kells was one of many volunteers giving up their time to help run the centre

He said: "Some of the people I've spoken to who are Muslim have said they heard the vaccination was haraam (forbidden) due to being made from gelatin from animals.

"However, we have worked over the last few months with the imam and the volunteers to clear up this misconception through webinars and education and explained it is a community effort to have the vaccine."

The mosque saw more than 90 people come through the doors to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, with members of the local Islamic community among those injected.

Mohammed Noor Miah, 66, from Pleck, was was pleased to be able to get the first dose of the vaccine.

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Visitors were given help with completing forms and finding their way around

He said: "I'm feeling really good about getting it and I wasn't concerned about taking it, despite what the news kept saying.

"The mosque did everything it could to help me feel comfortable and I would encourage everyone from the BAME community to come and get the vaccine."

The staff at the mosque worked to keep people comfortable, with translators available to help people with limited English and a safe area to sit after being jabbed.

The imam of the mosque Muhammed Saeed was given his first dose of the vaccine, with the 40-year-old saying it was his way of encouraging others to take it.

Imam of the mosque Muhammad Saeed arrives for his vaccination

He said: "In this case, I hope to inspire other people to take it by leading by example.

"I spoke to the doctors and learned about the vaccine and I believe I can show to people that it is not haraam and is actually halal for members of the community."

Chairman of Walsall CCG Dr Anand Rischie was keen to dispel myths about the vaccine.

He said: "I have heard people say how it affects your body and makes changes, with one man asking me if it made you impotent and where that came from, I don't know.

"It is said in Islam and other religions that you leave things to god, but I also think God would say you need to do whatever is possible to make yourself better."

The volunteers helping at the mosque said they were keen to free up doctors and nurses to focus on treating ill patients.

Fiona Kells, from Caldmore, said: "We do all the cleaning work and help to ensure things run well, which I think they really have while we've been here."

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