Khoja community centre in Birmingham temporarily turns into a Covid-19 vaccine hub

 
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A prominent Khoja Shia community centre in Birmingham city is all set to open a Covid-19 vaccine hub in its community halls to support the coronavirus vaccine roll-out. The centre has set an example with this step and hopes that other communities will soon follow suit and join hands to fight the virus collectively.

Al Abbas Islamic Centre

The Al Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham has stepped forward to temporarily provide its premises to support the vaccination roll-out drive. With this move, the centre aims to provide a somewhat familiar and safe environment for the families living in, and nearby the centre’s vicinity to get their vaccination jabs.

The vaccination hub is set to open on Thursday, 21st January 2021. It will serve as an additional vaccination hub to local people, alongside the GP hubs, hospitals and the mass vaccination centre at Millennium Point.

Spreading Awareness

The centre also provides services to answer the personal concerns anyone has about the vaccination programme, be it medical, scientific or religious. They encourage the locals to raise their queries and doubts to ensure that people have accurate information and make informed choices. Br. Hudda says, “We have been open and transparent with our communities. Our medical taskforce, including local doctors, are 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.”

In a bid to further encourage the people and community members to take up the vaccine, the Imam of the centre, Sheikh Nuru Mohammed took his first jab of the vaccine. He posted a photo on his twitter account with the message, “Alhamdu Lillah! Received my first dose. #NoToFakeNews #YesToVaccine”

First of its kind Initiative

Al Abbas Islamic Centre is situated in Balsall Heath, which has suffered consistently high infection rates, illnesses and deaths. The area currently has a Covid infection rate of around 800 per 100,000 people which is higher than the citywide rate of 724.

The trustee of Al Abbas Islamic Centre, Br Haider Hudda comments about the first-of-its-kind initiative undertaken by the centre saying, “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. The venue’s leadership committee, guided by medical experts, were keen to play their part in supporting the roll-out and the local community.”

Although the centre is currently closed for congregational prayers and other activities, they have created alternative ways of supporting and communicating with community members by phone, online, through youtube videos, and keeping in contact with elders and those who are alone to ensure they do not despair and do not suffer from the lack of interaction.

Arrangements made to ensure safety

When mentioning about the safety of the people who will visit to get the vaccine jabs, Br Haider tells us that, there are two community Imambargah halls inside the centre that are side by side and are large enough to hold up to 500 people. This space makes it a safe venue for a vaccine hub and the halls are being transformed to facilitate the vaccinations. The visitors will be received and check-in inside one hall, then move into the other for their vaccine and short recovery period, before exiting the premises safely.

Br Haider also mentions that Vinyl washable flooring has also been laid on top of carpets to meet the Covid safety guidelines, with full security in place, staggered appointments and social distancing throughout. There is also a large car park and halls are accessible to wheelchair users which makes it easily accessible for elderly people.

Securing an Appointment

The executive committee of the centre put out an announcement on their social media pages informing the community members about the initiative where they mentioned that the distribution of the vaccines will continue to be in accordance with the Government priority lists, and shall be managed by the NHS.

Registered healthcare workers can drop in with their proof of employment to get the vaccination jab. For other locals that fall in the priority groups for getting the vaccine, please secure an appointment for vaccination by registering online at the NHS website.

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