A group of GPs in West Yorkshire have come together to run what is believed to be the UK’s first women’s only Covid vaccination clinic.
GP groups in Keighley teamed up with the local community hub – Keighley Association for Women and Children’s Centre (KAWACC) – to offer a women’s only pop-up vaccination clinic today, (18 March).
Naz Kazmi, the chief executive, for KAWACC, which supports up to 500 women in Keighley each year, was the first woman to receive the vaccine today and was helping with the launch.
She said: "It is a special moment. It is something to be celebrated especially as I was able to have my vaccine at the opening of the first women's only vaccine clinic in the UK."
The aim of the clinic is to improve vaccination uptake across Keighley and to create a space to encourage women to take up their invitation to have the vaccine when it is offered.
Considerable efforts are being made in Yorkshire to address hesitancy on the part of some black and South Asian communities to accept the vaccine offer they are receiving, but those on the frontline say the reasons behind any reluctance are altogether more complex than just being down to online disinformation.
Mrs Kazmi, 50, says there is a need for more grass roots community centres across the region to roll out similiar clinics.
"We have lost a great many members of our community to Covid including some of our community leaders," she said. "We want everyone to know the facts about the vaccine and to understand the reasons to have the vaccine."
The community leader added: "We are a needs driven organisation and we advocate for vulnerable and disadvantaged women.
"This was a need that was addressed and they wanted a women's only space where they feel comfortable and a trusted organisation."
"We want to help educate our community about the vaccine and encourage everyone to have the vaccine when invited."
Around 200 women received the vaccine today while more than 100 females are on a waiting list for a second clinic.
It comes as there is concern that misinformation is being spread about the Covid-19 jab which is being rolled out across the region.
The concern among the Muslim community is that the vaccine contains animal products – which could undermine efforts to immunise the public.
Mrs Kazmi said: "There is a lot of fear mongering in the community via social media platforms.
"My message to the community is don't just accept messages... also look at how many people have been vaccinated."
She added: "Here at KAWACC we are looking at the flexibility to reach out to some of these disadvantaged, vulnerable and often marginalized people.
"As a grassroots organisation - this is where we play our very strategic part in bridging the gaps that statutory organisations and special services are unable to.
Modality Medical Director Dr Matt Curtis, added: "We are keen to remove barriers and work closely with communities to encourage the uptake of the vaccination.
"We are willing to work with everyone and create spaces that are sensitive to people’s cultures and beliefs to ensure there are no barriers to vaccine take up."
This is the most successful vaccination program ever, and we are determined no communities will be left behind and reassure the local communities of the safety of the vaccinations.
Umar Iqbal, the Modality Lead pharmacist said he and his team had now vaccinated more than 22,000 people locally
He said: "We now want to make sure that everyone has the chance to protect themselves from having a serious illness or having to be hospitalised."
The head of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens last month made the claim that there is a “pandemic of disinformation and the deliberate sowing of mistrust” surrounding the Covid vaccine rollout.
He said: "There is a real concern about the hesitancy on the part of some black and South Asian communities to accept the vaccine offer they are receiving, either at work if they are a health or social care worker, or as a member of the public.”
Office for National Statistics research which found less than half (49 per cent) of Black or Black British adults reporting that they were likely to have the vaccine compared to 85 per cent of those from white backgrounds and 80 per cent of those of mixed ethnicity.
That followed a separate poll conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health which suggested that only 57 per cent of respondents from minority ethnic groups were likely to accept a Covid vaccine, compared to 79 per cent of white respondents.
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