The Masjid Eesa Ibn Maryam mosque in Hall Green played host to two of the vans on Thursday to get over 40 members of the local community vaccinated against Covid-19.
The idea of the vans is to provide access to the vaccination within local communities, especially for those who may find it difficult to access it via more traditional routes.
GPs and teams from local practices Hall Green Health and Northbrook Group were on hand to administer the vaccine to eligible people, including those aged 60 and over and with underlying health conditions.
Naveed Saeed was one of the first to get his vaccination. He is a regular at the mosque and was thrilled at the opportunity to get protected in a location familiar to him. He said: “It’s been so easy – no hassle at all. There’ve been all sorts of rumours about the vaccine in our community so for it to be offered at a local mosque in a setting we trust and are familiar with is brilliant.”
Shabia Farmer echoed Mr Saeed’s comments and described initiatives like this as important for the local community.
She said: “I felt more comfortable coming here because it’s all open air, so any risk is significantly reduced. The vaccine is the route out of this pandemic so I’ve been encouraging all of my family and friends to get it when they can too.”
The vans, supported by the Birmingham and Solihull Covid-19 vaccination team, will be making their way to other faith and community centres, such as churches, mosques and gurdwaras, across Birmingham and Solihull over the coming weeks, with the potential for more opportunities in the future if they prove to be successful.
Dr Aftab Arif, a GP from Hall Green Health, was administering vaccines on the vans. He said: “The most important thing here is making the vaccine accessible and available in a safe space. Working in conjunction with faith leaders is vital and the turnout today proves how successful it can be.
“The equipment we have available on the vans lends itself well to working in sites like this, so we’re keen to do more to vaccinate within communities where they are and they feel most comfortable.”
Dr Shereen Zaki, a GP partner at Northbrook Group Practice, was also supporting the drive. She added: “I’ve been able to communicate with people directly in their own language in a safe and familiar space, which I think has been vital in helping to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about the vaccine. Many of the people I’ve seen here might find it difficult to communicate in English which means other centres might not be the best option for them.”
Mosque Administrator Aurangzeb Khan said: “We see that we have a duty to the community to offer services beyond just being a place of worship. We’ve had people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths here today and we’re thrilled to have played a part in the vaccination efforts.”