New vaccine and test centre opens in Willesden Green mosque
- Credit: Dr Raja Amjid Riaz
An NHS coronavirus vaccination centre within a mosque opening this week hopes to vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day.
The Central Mosque of Brent, in Station Parade, is due to open for vaccinations on Friday, February 26.
People aged over 64 in Brent can now contact the NHS directly to arrange a vaccine, but other groups should wait to be contacted by their GP.
The mosque is already being used as a ‘lateral flow’ testing centre and will become the first combined vaccination and testing venue in the UK.
The two areas will be separated from each other as well as the prayer rooms to reduce any infection risk.
Dr Raja Amjid Riaz, an NHS consultant and Covid-19 leader at the mosque, said hosting the centre is important to improve access to the vaccine.
“This is an absolutely necessary service for the whole local community,” he said. “The Pakistani and BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities have been over-represented in the number of infections and deaths... This is a logical step in the right direction in our fight against Covid-19.”
He urged people to stay home unless absolutely necessary to fight the spread of the virus in Brent, which now has some of the highest rates of Covid cases and deaths in the UK.
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“Every trip could potentially be one in which we could get infected with Covid and come back and infect the vulnerable members of our support bubble and our family,” he said.
The mosque is also working with Brent Council and the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to encourage local uptake of the vaccine and combat misinformation, particularly among BAME people.
Dr Riaz called for “cultural competence” in Covid communications at a Brent Council webinar last month.
“The distribution of vaccine information has to be in multiple languages,” he told the meeting of community representatives and health experts.
“Importantly, there has to be a local delivery of the vaccination program in areas and spaces where [people] feel safe and familiar… We need to provide a counterbalance to misinformation on [social media] platforms.”
Over 65s can book a vaccine by visiting nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or calling 119 free of charge, between 7am and 11pm.