Volunteers are being sought from the local Islamic communities to help support the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out.
Members of the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) have already been volunteering at Trafford’s first pharmacy-led vaccination hub at the Larkhill Centre in Timperley.
Now the ISB is seeking to reassure the local Muslim population that the coronavirus vaccine is halal and to combat other misinformation in circulation.
ISB Volunteer organiser Zainul Sachak said: “We are aware that some members of the BAME communities may have reservations about the vaccines.
“There is misinformation going round so we want to encourage as many people within the BAME communities to volunteer and be authentic voices, and dispel some of the concerns people might have.”
The Larkhill Centre hub is led by pharmacist Usman Shafique, who praised the volunteers for their efforts.
He said: “I’m very, very grateful for the Islamic Society to volunteer and help out. For us, this is a mission now. This is an extraordinary situation and to get out of it, we need an extraordinary effort and get extraordinary help.
The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) has recommended the Covid vaccine for eligible at-risk individuals in Muslim communities. This follows consultations with Muslim scholars and experts, and is supported by the Muslim Council of Britain.
The Larkhill Community Centre can administer 700 vaccinations a day to eligible people who have been invited by the national booking system and made an appointment. Medics at the centre are currently administering the Covid vaccine to residents over 75.
On the opening day of the vaccination at the centre, despite the snow and cold, a steady stream of people braved the weather to receive their first dose of the vaccine. Some of them had left home for the first time after almost 10 months of self-isolation and some were very frail or disabled yet still kept their appointment.
The ISB volunteers were involved in marshalling people through the centre and speaking to them after having received their vaccine.
Sachak added: “Many were so grateful they could have the vaccine local to their homes rather than travelling miles across the city to a larger centre. The sense of relief and delight could be seen on many faces.
“We are absolutely delighted to be able to support the vaccination programme with our young volunteers – Covid Warriors. Hearing the personal stories of people who came into the centre about their experience during the pandemic was very heartrending.”
Sachak outlined the importance of having volunteers from the BAME population.
He said: “This may dispel any misconceptions held in the community and send a strong message that Covid-19 affects us all and we can combat the virus if we work together.
“We see it as our goal to encourage many from minority communities to take the vaccine.”
Sachak is also looking volunteers to help with patient transport, marshalling, administrative duties and monitoring patients after they have received their vaccines.
Dr Mark Jarvis, Clinical Director at NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is vitally important that everyone who can is vaccinated so that as many people as possible can be protected from this deadly disease.
“These vaccines have been rigorously tested and do not contain any animal products, so I am very grateful at the work being done by volunteers in the Islamic communities to dispel misinformation.
“I would urge anyone with apprehensions to listen to the medical experts and the authentic voices within their community, and then come forward and receive this life-saving vaccine when it is their turn.”