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My day as a COVID-19 Vaccination Marshall

12 March 2021

By Shiraz Aziz Performance & Data Quality Manager

No-one would have predicted the impact Covid-19 would have had on our lives. We have been living in the constant flux of restrictions and not being able to see our loved ones, missing out on special occasions and being kept at home for the best part of a year.

With the news of the vaccine roll-out, you may have thought, the majority of people would jump at the chance to get themselves vaccinated so things can return to some sort of normality. For whatever reason, this is not the case for some. It has been widely reported that a proportion of the BAME community has been slow in the uptake of being vaccinated. Why is this and what can we do to help?

Myth-busting within BAME communities

My local mosque, Hendon Mosque and Islamic Centre run various community projects, from helping with local food banks, supporting refugees and most recently in conjunction with the local doctors, opening up its doors for people in the community getting the Covid vaccines.

Recently, I have been working very closely with the mosque and volunteering for various projects, so I decided to put my name down to marshal on the day of the vaccine rollout. We had 80 slots available for the community to come and get vaccinated, however, 2 days before there was only one person who had signed up.

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One of the main challenges has been the very slow uptake of the vaccine from the BAME community. The mosque in conjunction with other mosques and Imaams across the world have been working tirelessly trying to promote the importance of the vaccine and have even produced a myth buster document to help ease some of these fears.

Shiraz Aziz, Performance & Data Quality Manager

However, with the circulation of false information has contributed to a slow uptake in the vaccination. This impacted mosques efforts to get the local community on board and vaccinated, with many people refusing to take the vaccine. On the day, the doctor in charge gave a little talk and did his very own myth buster, the bit I did hear was the most common argument, “how can they have produced a vaccine in ten months when it normally takes ten years?”. The doctor answered this by saying a lot of time, money and manpower has been thrown into finding a vaccine that works and is effective. He also went one step further to say, the BAME community is the one that has been affected the most, there is no study or enough research to understand why this is.

Marshalling on the day 

Despite all of the above challenges, we did end up with around 12 people who registered to take the vaccine, (considering there was only 1 on Thursday, having 12 by Saturday was a huge success). On the day, I was there ensuring people maintained social distancing, and ensured they were sitting where they were meant to be, and everything was constantly wiped down.  I too was vaccinated, and like some people felt the full force of the after-effects, with high temperature, shivering, and a sore arm, but after 48 hours I was back to my normal self.

Those people who received their vaccination were so thankful the mosque had made it possible for people living nearby to get vaccinated without travelling too far, to the point they wanted to help and assist at the next vaccine rollout.

One of the most important things I will take away from this whole experience, is just seeing the joy in people’s eyes (they were wearing face masks, so couldn’t see their faces!) and knowing, they are one step closer to seeing and hugging their loved ones for the first time in nearly a year. During these times, I’ve definitely remembered the importance of putting my trust in God and not worrying about what we can’t control.

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