UK mosque opens as Covid vaccination centre
Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham chosen as first mosque where the public can be inoculated
A mosque is being used as a vaccination centre as part of the UK's mass immunisation strategy.
The Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham, central England, began administering Covid-19 vaccines in its community hall on Thursday.
The mosque is in the Balsall Heath area, which has suffered consistently high infection rates and has an infection rate of about 800 per 100,000 people.
"We want to benefit the community at large and are happy to provide our facilities. It is run by the NHS but with our support," mosque trustee Haider Hudda told the Birmingham Mail.
"We have been open and transparent with our communities. Our medical taskforce, including local doctors, is always available to answer concerns and give regular updates about the pandemic.
"They have addressed many personal and specific questions and are very careful to get the message across about the safety of the vaccine."
Last year, a Birmingham cemetery was forced to close to Muslim burials because of lack of space.
The NHS also announced the use of a cinema as a vaccination centre in Aylesbury, south-east England.
More than 65 pharmacies will be joining the vaccine distribution programme from this week.
“The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in the health service’s history, has got off to a strong start with our hard-working staff delivering more than four million vaccinations," NHS deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Bruce Warner said.
“After our successful launch in pharmacies last week, scores more sites are now offering the life-saving jab. As more vaccine supply comes online, we will be able to open even more, helping us to vaccinate vulnerable people even faster.”
NHS staff are working around the clock to vaccinate priority groups in line with the guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises UK health departments on immunisation.
“It’s fantastic to see the vaccine programme expand so fast," said Vaccines Minister Nadim Zahawi.
"Each week, the NHS is making it easier for people to get a jab closer to home, in places at the heart of their community, from the local pharmacy to the local mosque.
“I’m pleased another 65 vaccination sites are opening in high-street pharmacies this week, specifically in areas where the local community may be at higher risk of Covid-19.”
Those who are eligible for inoculation are invited to arrange an appointment at a pharmacy service or vaccination centre through the national booking service.
“Vaccines are the way out of the pandemic and this historic roll-out will cover every corner of the country," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said. "Community pharmacists have been phenomenal and will have a pivotal role to play in the continued expansion of the programme.
“Through the UK vaccine delivery plan, over four million people have already received their jab. From hospitals to pharmacies, sports clubs to places of worship, we’re making sure the vaccine is as accessible as possible," Mr Hancock said.
“In the meantime, it is vital everyone continues to play their part in this national effort by staying at home to protect the NHS.”
Maggie Keenan became the first person in the world to be protected against coronavirus outside a clinical trial when she received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at University Hospital in Coventry in December.
The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in January.
The UK reported another record high for daily coronavirus deaths on Wednesday.
A total of 1,820 people died, according to government figures, taking the overall number of Covid-related deaths in Britain to 93,290.
Updated: January 21, 2021 06:28 PM