Birmingham mosque becomes UK's first to offer Covid vaccine

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media captionBirmingham mosque opens doors as vaccination centre

A mosque has become the first in the UK to open as a Covid vaccination centre.

The Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Balsall Heath, Birmingham is expected to vaccinate up to 500 people a day.

The imam, Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, said he hoped it would help dispel false information that the vaccine was forbidden in Islamic law.

NHS England said it fears disinformation could be causing some in the UK's South Asian communities to reject the Covid vaccine.

"It will send a strong message to our Muslim brothers and sisters. We are doing this to say a big 'no' to fake news and a big 'yes' to the vaccine," Sheikh Nuru said.

"Muslim scholars advise us to get the vaccine because the sanctity of life is important in Islam."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionImam Sheikh Nuru Mohammed said he hopes the opening of the vaccination centre will help dispel false information

Dr Rizwan Alidina, a trustee of the mosque and member of the Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group said: "The significance of the venue is obviously quite evident with particularly the Muslim community being one of the communities with a bit of a lower uptake than we would otherwise have expected."

He said there had been a good response to the opening of the centre at the mosque and hoped it would soon be carrying out between 300 and 500 vaccinations a day.

NHS England regional medical director for London Dr Vin Diwakar told a Downing Street press conference some communities had "legitimate and understandable concerns about the vaccines".

He said despite it being a "safe and effective vaccine", for some Asian and black communities there were "longstanding concerns" that "go back generations".

Dr Diwakar said some people were "told by their grandparents that experiments were done in the early part of the last century, that unethical experiments were done way back in the 60s".

Speaking at the Downing Street briefing, Home Secretary Priti Patel also sought to counter disinformation targeted at people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

"This vaccine is safe for us all," she said.

"It will protect you and your family... So I urge everyone from across our wonderfully diverse country to get the vaccine when their turn comes to keep us all safe."

One of the first to get the jab at he Birmingham mosque, retired GP Dr Masud Ahmad, said his message to others in the local community was "that it's quite safe to have it and they should have it".

Other places of worship, including Salisbury Cathedral and Lichfield Cathedral, opened as vaccine centres last week.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe Al-Abbas Islamic Centre is administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

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