- Londoners from all backgrounds and ages are being invited to take part in virtual events to discuss COVID-19 vaccines
- Sessions will encourage open and positive conversations among London’s diverse communities as Omicron cases rise rapidly in the capital
- Mayor makes direct appeal to unvaccinated Londoners as he visits pop-up vaccine clinic at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that a series of virtual events will take place in the coming weeks as the capital’s health leaders and community representatives join together to ensure that no Londoner is left behind in the vaccine rollout. Register for today’s event here.
The Mayor unveiled the series of events and encouraged all Londoners to take up their offer of a vaccine as he visited a mass vaccination pop-up clinic at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium this morning (Saturday 17th).
The virtual sessions will include representatives from NHS London and London’s diverse communities – including Black, Muslim, Jewish and Eastern European communities – to encourage open and positive conversations on the current situation in London and why vaccines are such a crucial part of keeping us all safe.
With Omicron cases rising significantly in every London borough, the remote sessions will give Londoners from all backgrounds and ages the opportunity to ask questions, raise any concerns they may have and receive expert advice on the COVID-19 vaccines, boosters doses and Omicron variant.
London continues to lead the way with the rollout of the booster jab nationally with more than 2.5m doses issued and more than 100 Londoners receiving their booster every minute, but more than one million eligible Londoners are yet to come forward for any COVID-19 vaccines.
The capital’s Black and Asian communities and those living on lower incomes have been impacted disproportionately by the pandemic, and Londoners from minority ethnic backgrounds, and Black Londoners in particular, have been targeted with dangerous misinformation on social media making communities less likely to take up the vaccine.
The new sessions, organised in partnership with the NHS, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and community organisations, have been designed to encourage open and honest dialogue and to tackle the misinformation which may be influencing people to not get vaccinated.
It comes as the most recent statistics show that the risk of death involving COVID-19 is 32 times greater in unvaccinated people than in those who have received both doses. More vaccination sites are opening up than at any other point in the programme – including mass vaccination pop-ups at Wembley Stadium and Chelsea FC, and 24-hour ‘jab-a-thon’ sessions in diverse communities like Haringey .
Lordship Lane Health Centre in Haringey ran a 24-hour ‘jab-a-thon’ vaccine clinic on Friday 17 December, in a drive to boost Londoners’ protection levels against COVID-19 ahead of the festive season. The clinic will be open as usual from 9am – 6pm on Friday 17 December but will then stay open until 6pm on Saturday 18 December.
Details of sessions: The first event, in collaboration with The Ubele Initiative, takes places on Wednesday 22 December and will feature a panel comprising of Kevin Fenton, Cedi Frederick, Dr Sarah Ann Filson, Michael Hamilton, Dr Oge Ilozue, Dr Hamish Mohammed, Patrick Vernon, and Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard. To register for this event, please click here.
The second event, in collaboration with the Muslim Council of Britain and British Islamic Medical Association, takes place on Wednesday 22 December 2021, 6-7pm. The panel speakers include Dr. Muhammed Haqmal, Dr Tehseen Khan, Sherifat Muhammad Kamal, Dr Muhammed Wajid Akhter, Dr Salman Waqar and Dr Debbie Weekes Bernard. To register for this event, please click here.
In January, further ‘Big Conversation’ events will take place. These will be targeted at Jewish Londoners, young Londoners and Eastern European Londoners, with details to be revealed here over the coming weeks.
The Ubele Initiative is a social enterprise with a mission to contribute to the sustainability of the African Diaspora community. Through social leadership development, community enterprise and social action, they incubate projects across the UK. The Ubele Initiative supports a wide range of communities, community-based organisations and groups with their community assets (people and physical spaces), though social action, community enterprise development and next generation leadership initiatives.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is the UK’s largest and most diverse national Muslim umbrella organisation with over 500 members including mosques, schools, charitable associations, and professional networks. Their mission is to empower Muslim communities to achieve a just, cohesive, and successful British society. Founded in 1997, MCB lead community projects and initiatives around the country in a range of settings.
The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) is a democratic, national organisation that aims to unite, inspire, and support Muslim healthcare professionals in the UK. Their membership body reflects the diversity of professions, grades, ethnicities, and localities within the Muslim healthcare workforce. BIMA strives to promote contributions of Muslim professionals to healthcare in Britain and highlight the challenges faced by Muslim staff and patients.
Biographies of speakers:
Dr Sarah Ann Filson is an Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Specialty doctor training in London. She is also Trustee of Mitchell City of London Charity and Education Foundation Trust and a past Trustee of the Royal Society of Medicine. Throughout the pandemic she cared for patients with COVID-19 on the frontline. During this time she was also involved in the recovery and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial. Over the last year she has spent time engaging in community vaccine advocacy and highlighting the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on ethnic minority communities. Dr Filson is currently at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to completing a Master in Public Health in Health Policy. She has an interest in addressing the social determinants of health as well as striving for a more equitable and inclusive society.
Cedi Frederick Cedi Frederick is Chair of NHS London’s Vaccine Legacy and Health Inequalities Board (V-LEG) and Chair Designate of the NHS Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board. In a 40+ year career spent working across the public, Not-for-Profit and private sectors, Cedi held a series of senior positions in the local authority, housing association and social care sectors, including 20 years at CEO level. Cedi has over 30 years non-Executive experience as a member of the Boards of housing, social care and sporting national governing bodies, housing associations and voluntary organisations, as well over 12 years as a Non-Executive Director of two specialist mental health NHS Trusts, two years as Chair of North Middlesex University Hospital Trust and eight years as a Governor of a Canterbury Christ Church University.
Michael Hamilton is Project Director for The Ubele Initiative and has more than 20 years’ experience working with young people and their communities in the London Borough of Lewisham. Michael has been a community worker, a youth worker, a community arts worker, radio presenter and a project manager, creating interventions in young people’s health. More recently he founded Share, Act, Think a community interest company with a remit to make individual and community interventions both impactful and sustainable, offering counselling and designing and delivering multi-layered programmes.
Dr. Muhammed Haqmal was the Public Health Lead in Afghanistan and is now a lecturer in London. He speaks Pashto, Farsi, Arabic and English.
Dr Oge Ilozue is a GP Partner and Trainer based in Barnet, North London and is working with NHSE&I as a Clinical advisor on the Covid vaccination programme London region. A proud Londoner with Nigerian roots, Dr Ilozue grew up in London and trained at Imperial College London.
Dr Tehseen Khan is a GP in Stamford Hill, Hackney. He is Clinical Director of Springfield Park Primary Care Network and Vaccine lead in City and Hackney. Tehseen joined the London NHS Team as Senior Clinical Advisor to the Covid Vaccine Programme in April. He qualified as a Population Health Fellow in Lambeth in 2017, completing his Public Health Masters at Kings College London. Tehseen has experience working on childhood immunisation and cancer screening uptake and became involved in the vaccination programme when it was launched.
Dr. Hamish Mohammed is a Consultant Epidemiologist and National Lead of Sexually Transmitted Infection data at UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). He studied at Morehouse College before completing his PhD in epidemiology at Tulane University. He was an Epidemic Intelligence Officer at the CDC’s Dengue Branch where he responded to dengue outbreaks in Puerto Rico and St. Croix, and has been on faculty at Ross University (St. Kitts) and the University of Trinidad and Tobago. He has extensive experience researching and responding to emerging infectious diseases, including UKHSA’s response to sexual transmission of Zika, and has worked with the World Health Organisation on polio eradication in India and on the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Dr. Mohammed is also the Chair of the Medical Board of Naz, a sexual health charity in London, and Honorary Senior Lecturer at University College London. He was one of the senior epidemiologists responding to COVID-19 at UKHSA in 2020.
Sherifat Muhammad Kamal is a specialist pharmacist and Clinical Lead for a COVID-19 vaccination centre. She has experience working with Muslim womens’ organisations.
Patrick Vernon OBE, Windrush Campaigner, is a Clore Fellow, Associate Fellow for the Department of History of Medicine at Warwick University. Founder of Every Generation Media and 100 Great Black Britons, which develops education programmes, publications and films on cultural heritage and family history. He is a leading expert on African and Caribbean genealogy in the UK. He was the first director of Black Thrive a mental health multi agency tackling mental health in Lambeth. Patrick is working with The Ubele Initiative on the issues of Covid-19 and its impact on BAME communities.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Over the last week we’ve seen Londoners of all backgrounds and ages lining up outside our pharmacies, hospitals and pop-up vaccination centres which are working around the clock as part of the biggest booster roll out in the country.“As cases of the Omicron variant continue to rise, I want to make a direct appeal to the more than one million Londoners who are yet to come forward for any COVID-19 vaccinations – it’s never too late to get your first or second dose. It will help to protect you, your loved ones and our NHS.
Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter is Assistant Secretary General for the Muslim Council of Britain. He also leads National Covid Response Groups and is a GP Principal in Essex. Alongside this, he is a medical tutor in social media and Medicine & History of Medicine at Barts and the London Medical School.
Dr Salman Waqar is the Vice President of the British Islamic Medical Association where he advocates for the needs of Muslim and minority health professionals and communities. He’s joining us to discuss their role in wellbeing of the ethnic minority workforce. He is also Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and Honorary Secretary of the RCGP Thames Valley faculty.
Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard is London’s Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice. Since taking office, Debbie has made it a priority to ensure London’s diverse communities have a voice in their city. She works to promote social justice and equality for all communities and is a key player in driving London’s social recovery from Covid-19. Debbie chairs the Mayor’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory group, as well as London’s Strategic Migration Panel and is co-chair of the Diversity in the Public Realm Commission. She is also a member of the TUC Anti-Racism Taskforce and the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Systemic Inequalities and Social Cohesion..
Walk-ins are available in many vaccination sites across London, but booking is best, click here for more information or call 119 to guarantee your jab. New appointment slots are added every day, so while the website is incredibly busy do keep trying if there are queues as you will get an appointment.
“I don’t want any Londoner to be left behind in the vaccine rollout – particularly those communities who have been so badly affected by the pandemic, with the disproportionate loss of both loved ones and livelihoods. That’s why, working closely with leading community groups and health leaders, we’re hosting these Big Conversation sessions to encourage frank, honest and open dialogue on the questions and concerns Londoners have about the safety of the jabs. I urge Londoners to join these sessions, to ask the questions you want answered and to take the right action to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter.”
Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for the NHS in London, said: “It is incredibly important that all Londoners have access to accurate information so they can make the right decision to protect themselves and their loved ones against this virus. The fact is that the more vaccinated you are, the more protected you are against serious illness and we want all Londoners over the age of 18 to complete all three doses. But it all starts with a first dose, so don’t delay even if you’re starting off with your first dose now – the NHS’ offer to get vaccinated is there for everyone.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director of Public Health, said: “We are currently seeing incredibly high numbers of Covid cases in London including the highest daily totals since the start of the pandemic. This growth is being driven by the Omicron variant on top of already high Delta cases. This sheer volume of cases across our city means that even if Omicron is found to have reduced severity, it could still have a big impact on hospitalisations and deaths. But we can turn the tide. Vaccines without a doubt are our best line of defence against this wave of infection but we know that two doses alone are not enough. We need Londoners from all communities, backgrounds and every walk of life, to come forward for the booster and the first dose and second dose before that, so we can bolster our protection and reduce the impact of this spread.”
Michael Hamilton, Director of Practice at The Ubele Initiative, said: “As Omicron spreads, London’s Black and minoritised communities have some pressing and urgent questions to answer about how we respond to this new emergency. How do we best support and protect each other? Who should we trust? What is reliable information? The Ubele Initiative is pleased to host this important event, exploring these important questions, providing informed responses from Black and minoritised experts’.
Dr Salman Waqar, General Secretary of BIMA, said: “The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) are delighted to be working with colleagues from across NHS London, OHID and the Greater London Authority to convene this important session. Many Muslims in the UK are from ethnic minority groups who are at risk of COVID-19 related complications which we know can be minimised by vaccination. It is so important for us to hold spaces for our community to come together and access the information needed to make informed decisions about getting vaccinated, so that no one gets left behind.”
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