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“A reassurance to many”: City mosque applies to become covid vaccine hub

The Husaini Islamic Centre in Peterborough has applied to become a Vaccination Hub for the city. 
Husaini Islamic Centre in Burton Street, Peterborough has applied to be a covid vaccine hub (Picture: Rizwan Rehmetulla)

Despite staying closed during the last year, Husaini Islamic centre, like other community organisations in the city, continued supporting the wider Peterborough community.

That support included distribution of hot meals, advice on staying safe, on-line sermons and live YouTube videos that cover both religious needs as well as COVID-related topics. 

They have been releasing regular videos to advice people on ‘COVID Fatigue’ and ‘Myth-Busting rumours relating to COVID’ – all with the help of experts from within the community. 

Following recent studies showing lower uptakes of the vaccine among the ethnic minorities, the mosque management hopes the centre, if set up as a hub, can help increase reassurances to many. 

Peterborough GP and Labour Councillor, Dr Shabina Asad Qayyum works closely with the city mosques including The Husaini Islamic Centre. 

Last week, she took to the airwaves on Peterborough’s community radio station Salaam Radio to encourage people from the ethnic minority community to attend their Covid-19 vaccine appointments when their turn arises. 

In a statement to Peterborough Matters, Dr Shabina said: “It’s really important that people understand the importance of the vaccination. A number of studies have been done across the board, including with pregnant women. 

“I would like to say to those reading his, I stand as an example of a woman from an ethnic minority community in reproductive age, who has had the AstraZeneca vaccine. There's nothing to be scared of - the vaccine will save lives, protect you and your loved ones around you. 

“The fact that there are religious institutions who have set up or are wanting to set up a vaccination facility is very welcome news. I work very closely with the Husaini Islamic Centre in Peterborough and I am fully supportive of their initiative to star this hub.” 

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow has also welcomed the suggestion of a city mosque joining the vaccination program. 

He has written to the Clinical Commissioning Group for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, urging them to look into the ‘suitability of the Husaini Islamic Centre being used as a vaccination centre.’ 

Mr Bristow said: “To date, the vaccine rollout in the UK has been an incredible success. Our NHS staff, armed forces personnel, volunteers, and everyone involved in the programme have every reason to feel proud of their work. The public in Peterborough and across the country thank them for their efforts. Despite this, in Peterborough we need to double down in our efforts to make the programme as accessible as possible for every community in our City.   

“While we have mass vaccination centres, a pharmacy-led service in the south of our City, and GP centres all doing wonderful work, I wonder if more could be done.   

“I understand that Rizwan Rahemtulla, President of the Husaini Islamic Centre, and Abdul Choudhuri, Chair of the Peterborough Joint Mosques Council, suggested that the Centre might be used as a temporary vaccination centre. I think this is a brilliant idea and could play a crucial part in our City’s fight against the virus.   

“The fact a mosque in Peterborough was hosting a vaccine centre would be reassuring to many in our City’s (close to) 20,000 strong Muslim community. There have been a number of studies and surveys suggesting greater resistance to vaccine uptake in BAME communities than in the wider British population.

"There have been a number of unhelpful conspiracy theories circulated, aimed at these communities. These are dangerous, wicked and wrong. Anything we can do to offer reassurance and combat these theories should be considered. Hosting a vaccine centre at Husaini Islamic Centre could be part of this. Peterborough is a multi-lingual and diverse city with people from many different communities living here.   

“Our fight against COVID-19 has been tremendous. We have come together as one City to support those struggling during lockdown and those who have been shielding and isolating for many months.

"These efforts make me proud of Peterborough. But it’s the vaccine that will get us back to normality and will save lives. We are one City and all communities mix together at work, school and play. We are neighbours, friends and work colleagues.” 

The holy month of fasting, Ramadan is also approaching and will begin in April. During the month, Muslims fast between dawn and dusk. 

Based in Burton Street, the Islamic centre hopes to offer late night vaccination facilities, especially for Muslims who can attend their appointments post-breaking their fast, after sunset. 

President of the Husaini Islamic Centre, Rizwan Rahemtulla has thanked Peterborough MP Paul Bristow, Abdul Choudhury, Chairman of the Joint Mosque Council and Peterborough GP and Labour Councillor Dr. Shabina Asad Qayyum for their support in this initiative.  

He has already started to receive messages from the community members wanting to volunteer if and when the centre kicks off. 

Mr Rahemtulla said: "Since the start of this awful pandemic, the Husaini Islamic Centre has provided help and support to our members and the wider community which has included distribution of hot meals, advice on staying safe, increasing our capacity to deliver on-line quizzes, prayers, sermons and live YouTube videos that cover both religious needs as well as COVID-related topics such as ‘COVID Fatigue’ and ‘Myth-Busting rumours relating to COVID’ – all with the help of experts from within our community.  Not only is this our Islamic obligation but is also a moral one. 

“We recently applied to become a Vaccination Hub for the use of all citizens of Peterborough. We have the full support of our MP Paul Bristow and the Chair of the Joint Mosques Council (Abdul Choudhari), Dr Shabina Asad Qayyum and I take this opportunity to thank them for their passionate support. 

“With recent studies showing lower uptakes of the vaccine in BAME communities, I am sure that having our Centre as a hub will increase reassurances to many. Peterborough is a very diverse City and one that I am personally proud to belong to.  Having the Husaini Islamic Centre serve the citizens of Peterborough in such a way would be an honour for us. 

“I am already receiving calls and messages from my members who wish to volunteer their services – whether by helping in traffic control, cleaning, or welcoming individuals to our Centre with a warm welcome - such is the appetite to serve and be a part of the solution to make us all safer – we have all suffered too much.” 

Currently, two mass vaccination centres, several GP surgeries and a community pharmacy are offering the covid jab to the Peterborough population. 

The latest statistics from NHS England, released February 25, show that almost a third of people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have received a dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.