Appeal to 'reluctant' ethnic groups to get Covid jabs with pop-up clinic in East London Mosque

Joymala Bibi gets her jab against Covid-19

Joymala Bibi has her inoculation against Covid-19 - Credit: Kois Miah

A major programme is under way to make sure east London's ethnic communities are vaccinated against Covid-19 after health authorities feared reluctance to get jabs.

No animal products like pork or eggs are used in the vaccines, GPs assure. 

An inoculation

GPs are concerned about false and misleading information about the vaccines on social media - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A Saturday pop-up clinic was opened at Whitechapel's East London Muslim Centre. It was run by GPs on February 6 as part of the campaign to encourage those eligible to come forward. 

It follows warnings by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets at January’s council meeting that Asian and black people eligible for the jab were failing to take up the offer. Only 8,000 had been inoculated up to January 20. 

The pilot clinic run by AT Medics local GP partnership from Whitechapel Health Centre has been operating for the first four priority groups. 

AT Medics' chief Omar Din... "already vaccinated 6,000 people in two weeks."

AT Medics' chief Omar Din says they have already vaccinated 6,000 people in two weeks. - Credit: AT Medics

“We’ve been close to the challenges of patient vaccination uptake,” the health centre's chief executive Omar Din said. “We’ve already vaccinated 6,000 people in two weeks and hope this will encourage many more to come forward when they're invited.” 

His GP team at the Cable Street Surgery has been using bilingual staff to meet the needs of ethnic communities and reassure them.  

Appointments can be made through the council’s new vaccine helpline on 020 7364 3030 for those currently eligible  who haven’t yet taken up the offer. 

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The GPs are working with Tower Hamlets Council to give the facts about the vaccine and build trust, that it's “safe and effective” with no animal or egg products used. The vaccines are "vegan, halal and kosher friendly".

Dr Abdul Kamali... "confusion on social media, but vaccines are safe."

Dr Abdul Kamali from the Limehouse Practice says there is confusion on social media, but vaccines are safe. - Credit: Limehouse NHS Clinic

Dr Abdul Kamali from the Limehouse Practice has contacted the East London Advertiser with a public appeal. 

He told the paper: “People from ethnic backgrounds often have complex health problems, so they can be more vulnerable to Covid — which is why it’s important that we’re all vaccinated.  

“There’s confusing information on social media, but the vaccines are safe and don’t contain any pork or animal materials. The programme is now well under way and every vaccination given is a step towards the end of this pandemic.” 

The GPs say the vaccine, whichever one is given, is the best form of protection from Covid-19 and the best chance to return to normal life.  

Dr Kamali added: “As a GP I had the vaccine myself and it’s a weight off my mind. My colleagues in the Royal London Hospital who are working round the clock to treat Covid patients on the wards are strengthened knowing that people are doing everything to keep the infection rate down.” 

Ivy Morris has her Covid vaccination

Ivy Morris has her Covid vaccination - Credit: Kois Miah

Hundreds of eligible men and women were vaccinated in Saturday’s pilot at the Muslim centre in Whitechapel Road. The pilot was  to make inoculations more accessible in what is the biggest programme in the 73-year history of the NHS. 

But mayor John Biggs warned: “There is dangerous misinformation circulating about the vaccine. It is grassroots initiatives like this (Saturday’s clinic) which will help build confidence and reduce vaccine hesitancy.” 

The clinic was set up in consultation with Islamic scholars and medical professionals. The Muslim centre’s director Dilowar Hussein Khan said: “Vaccination is the best way to combat the pandemic and return to our normal life. Preservation of life is of the utmost importance, so we want to reassure those who are hesitant about vaccination.” 

Getting safe from Covid-19... another vaccination in east London 

Another vaccination in east London - Credit: Kois Miah

The vaccines provide “safe and effective protection against this devastating virus for those most at risk”, the GPs’ joint commissioning group for Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest has assured. It supports initiatives like Saturday's pilot clinic at the Whitechapel mosque.   

The GPs urge everyone to "have the vaccine when their turn comes”. Meanwhile they urge the public to keep safe by “taking the lockdown rules seriously”.

The virus can still be passed on to someone else, even without actually being ill yourself if you don't wear a mask in public or wash hands regularly, it is pointed out. People are also urged to staying indoors as much as possible or keep social distance when they have to go out.