The imam of the first UK mosque to offer Covid-19 vaccines has joined forces with other faith leaders to urge people to get booster injections amid rising cases of the Omicron variant.
In January, Sheikh Nuru Mohammed became the first imam to open his mosque as a vaccination centre.
He has now joined with the Archbishop of Canterbury – the principal leader of the Church of England – the Secretary General of the Hindu Council and members of the Prime Minister’s Places of Worship Taskforce to emphasise the importance of receiving a booster injection.
Sheikh Mohammed, who is originally from Ghana, opened up the Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham as a vaccine centre when local cases were high.
It led to many other mosques following suit.
He is urging everyone to “come together” to fight the latest spread of coronavirus.
“The best way to do so is to go for our jabs, otherwise we will not go back to some sort of normality,” he said.
On Friday, the UK's faith minister Kemi Badenoch met with religious leaders to thank them for their work and asked for their support in increasing booster uptake.
The government said while the UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world – with more than 85% of adults double jabbed so far – data shows people from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds are less likely to take up the vaccine.
“More than 25 million people have already received their booster jab, helping to keep themselves, their friends and family safe this winter. But we need everyone from every community to come forward to get ahead of this virus,” Ms Badenoch said.
“This is why I have joined up with leaders from across all the major faiths to ask people of every denomination to come forward and support this huge national effort.”
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the public should do “everything” to support staff from the UK's NHS publicly funded healthcare system.
“None of us are safe until all of us are safe: we are all each other’s neighbours,” he said.
“I want to encourage everyone, whatever your faith and background, to get boosted as soon as you can. It’s our best hope of keeping everyone safe this Christmas and beyond.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it is vital people get vaccinated.
“Faith and local community leaders have played a vital role supporting the Covid-19 vaccine programme from the very beginning,” he said.
“Thank you to everyone who is uniting behind this national mission, spreading the word about the life-saving benefits of the vaccines and encouraging people to roll up their sleeves and get boosted now.
“Today’s discussion with faith leaders is another opportunity to listen to views from across the country and join forces to get ahead in the race against the Omicron variant.
“It is never too late to get your vaccine, whether it’s your first, second or third. Please come forward and get protected for yourself, your family and your community.”
Earlier this week the UK ruled that all adults in the UK would be eligible to get a booster vaccination.
On Thursday, the UK recorded its highest number of daily Covid-19 cases, with 88,376 new infections reported.
Britain is racing to deliver about 900,000 Covid-19 testing kits a day by the end of this week amid increasing demand for swabs and rising infections.
A total of 750 troops have been drafted in to support the distribution of booster vaccines across the UK, while tens of thousands of volunteers have stepped up to support the drive.
Extra vaccine centres and pop-up sites have also opened to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated.