Newport mosque first in Wales to become coronavirus vaccination centre

A mosque in Newport has become the first in Wales to offer a 'catch-up' coronavirus vaccination clinic.

Those in the local community who have not had their jab yet, despite being in one of the priority groups who have already been offered it, can come to the Jamia Mosque for their injection.

It is also hoped the centre will help reassure those in the Muslim community who may be anxious about having a Covid vaccine.

Official figures suggest people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are less likely to have the vaccine.

One of the people helping administer vaccines at the mosque said having doctors who are also part of the community at the centre would hopefully "break down barriers of trust".

Like many other religious centres, normal worship has not be able to take place at the Jamia Mosque for much of the pandemic. Credit: ITV Wales

People do not need to book an appointment to use the vaccination centre and anyone can access it, regardless of faith.

One person who used the mosque to get their vaccine is Ajaz Hussain. He is keen to dispel myths surrounding it and urged others to take up their offer too.

He said: "I encourage all the Muslims in the community - and across the country - to go out and get this medication and get your injections done.

"You're safeguarding yourself, and the stigma should be just erased. We've got the opportunity to serve all of us, and it's brilliant. We should take advantage of it."

Doctor Syma Ahmed was one of those involved in setting up the centre.

"Doing it in local community spaces is hopefully a familiar environment for them," she said.

"So there's lots of issues around trust I think - hopefully that breaks down the barriers of trust.

"Having people like us on board as doctors but also people from the community, allows people that may be a bit hesitant to ask us questions. And that things aren't as daunting."

The mosque is open to people of any religion and has also been used to help vaccinate some homeless people in the area.

Karrina Mitchell, a nurse at the vaccine centre, said the Newport site has enabled them to have a positive effect on the community.

She said through the centre, they have also been able to keep in touch with some of the homeless and vulnerable people health staff in the area already work closely with.

She added that they have "managed to persuade them to come in to be vaccinated as well".

There are plans for more mosques across Wales to be used as similar, drop-in vaccine clinics. They too will be open to people of any, or no, religion.

Although religious venues are allowed to hold communal worship during Wales' current alert level four lockdown, Welsh Government have encouraged them to find alternative ways other than face-to-face gatherings.

This has meant many places of worship moved to online services and are only open in limited circumstances.

People do not need to book an appointment to use the vaccination centre and anyone can access it, regardless of faith.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 44% of Black or Black British adults have reported vaccine hesitancy - the highest of all ethnic groups.

Previous research has also revealed that people from a BAME background are more likely to die from coronavirus.

It is believed low take-up of the jab within ethnic minority communities could be partly down to misinformation.