A pharmacist who has started providing Covid-19 vaccinations at an Islamic community centre said he vaccinated his 85-year-old father to encourage everybody to get a jab “as soon as possible”.
Aftab Rehman, lead pharmacist at Pear Tree Pharmacy in Derby, began vaccinations at Ikhlas Islamic Education Centre on Thursday.
He told the PA news agency he wanted to vaccinate his father, Rehmat Khan, a former stroke patient and diabetes sufferer, to “give confidence” to the community.
Mr Rehman said: “The problem is, via social media, we have misinformation and we have people who want to share conspiracy theories – especially as nobody knows how coronavirus came about.
“But we’re in a situation – we know it’s a killer, we know there’s a solution, and by vaccinating ourselves we protect ourselves and protect those people around us.
“This is an opportunity for all of us collectively to get out of this pandemic as quick as possible and get back to normality very soon, because it’s impacting all our lives.”
Asked how important it was for a local pharmacist to be vaccinating people at a community centre, Mr Rehman said: “It’s extremely important.
“A lot of the vaccinators here will be nurses and pharmacists from the community so people will know them.
“Once word of mouth gets out, I’m very confident… the confidence to say ‘look, let’s get vaccinated at Ikhlas Community Centre, let’s get behind this service and let’s get out of this pandemic that we’re in at the moment’.
“One of the things I’d like to say, in order to give confidence, is my father is 85 years old, an ex-stroke patient who still has diabetes.
“I wouldn’t vaccinate my father if I thought there was any risk to him.
“From my perspective I would encourage everybody to come out and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Ghulam Murtaza, the manager of the centre, also urged the community to get vaccinated.
He told PA: “The message to our community is please get vaccinated – get your vaccine.
“This is the way out. We all want to end this pandemic. We want to get out and start our normal lives and the way to do this is to get your vaccine. This is safe to use.”
The first jabs were given at the centre five days after Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said faith leaders had a “vital role” to play in encouraging people to get a vaccine.
After meeting the imam at Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, Mr Jenrick said: “It is absolutely brilliant to see faith communities like this stepping up and playing their part in the vaccine programme.
“We have to build trust, ensure that we counter misinformation and ensure that everyone, regardless of their faith, regardless of what community they’re from, gets access to the programme.”
Cathedrals around the country have also hosted vaccination sites, including Staffordshire’s Lichfield Cathedral, which was dubbed “the most glamorous vaccine centre in Britain” by the city’s MP.