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Covid-19 vaccination clinic at Waltham Forest mosque

A Covid-19 vaccination pop-up clinic has taken place at a Waltham Forest mosque as part of the ongoing efforts to encourage eligible people to have their jab.

The clinic, held on Tuesday (16 February), was a partnership between local GPs, Waltham Forest Islamic Association and Waltham Forest Council.

All of those vaccinated were within the priority groups, in line with national guidance, and had pre-booked appointments through the mosque’s special vaccine hotline.

The clinic was primarily aimed at local people aged 70 or over who had not yet taken up the offer of a covid vaccination. It was hoped that hosting it at the Lea Bridge Road Mosque in Walthamstow would encourage eligible residents living in the area – including those in the black and ethnic minority (BAME) community – to come forward to have their jab.

It forms part of the work being done by local partners to give the facts about the vaccine to build trust in local communities – explaining it is safe and effective, there are no animal or egg products, it is vegan, halal and kosher friendly, and that having the vaccine is the best form of protection from Covid-19 and our best chance to return to a normal way of life.

Chingford GP Dr Asad Ashraf, who ran the pop-up clinic on behalf of the local NHS, said he and his colleagues at E4 Network and the Waltham Forest GP Federation Network had already vaccinated thousands of their own patients in recent weeks.

He said: “As local GPs, we’ve been very aware of the challenges of vaccine uptake across Waltham Forest so, while we’ve successfully vaccinated thousands of people in our local area, we are still keen to encourage many more eligible residents to come forward.

“We know which communities we need to target, and as I have good contacts at the Islamic association, we worked with them and the council to set up the clinic at the mosque. It gave people the opportunity to raise any concerns they might have, seek reassurance from familiar and trusted voices and have the vaccination in a place they know well.

“It was very successful, and we vaccinated more than 130 people at the two-hour session.”

Cllr Naheed Asghar, Cabinet Member for Health Partnerships and Poverty Reduction at Waltham Forest Council, said: “I’m really pleased we have been able to work with the E4 Network and Waltham Forest Islamic Association to set up a pop-up clinic. Pop-up clinics like this make getting a vaccination more accessible and allow people to ask questions and get reassurance in a familiar environment.

“The vaccine will protect our most vulnerable friends, family, and neighbours and help us to exit lockdown restrictions. It’s really important that you get your vaccination when you receive your invite.”

Abdul Majid, Vice-President at Waltham Forest Islamic Association, said:

“In consultation with Islamic scholars and medical professionals, we firmly believe that vaccination is the best way to combat the pandemic and return to our normal way of life.

“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. We will continue to work with the NHS and Waltham Forest Council in this partnership to help our communities.”

The clinic could be replicated elsewhere to make vaccinations as accessible as possible to London’s communities, in what is the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.

Selina Douglas, Managing Director of Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest CCGs, said:

“The NHS, working in partnership with councils, community and faith groups and volunteers, has already vaccinated thousands of people in north east London – providing safe and effective protection against this devastating virus for those most at risk.

“We are delighted that our communities are wholeheartedly supporting the vaccination programme in initiatives, such as this session in Waltham Forest, and we are working with other groups to do the same.

“We encourage everyone to have the jab when offered but please continue to follow government guidelines to reduce transmission and help save lives.”