Veteran newsman in Woking to champion COVID jab

SIR TREVOR McDonald, the veteran broadcaster and journalist, visited Woking to film a video encouraging members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic community to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Sir Trevor was accompanied by Shahid Azeem, the High Sheriff of Surrey, who said: “It has been suggested that some members of the BAME community in Surrey are reluctant to be vaccinated against the disease which has claimed so many lives in the county.

Sir Trevor McDonald in front of the statue of Eric Bedser with Shahid Azeem, the High Sheriff of Surrey. On the other side of the bridge, which opened in 2013, there is a statue of Sir Alec bowling to his twin brother

“Sir Trevor kindly stepped in to help us to try and reassure members of the community that the vaccine is safe and essential in the fight against COVID-19.”

Sir Trevor, who lived in Guildford for many years and is a former president of Surrey Cricket Club, visited the Bedser Bridge near Woking town centre.

The bridge is named after the cricketing twins Sir Alec and Eric, with statues of the men either side of the Basingstoke Canal crossing.

In a further attempt to encourage more of the BAME community to take up the vaccine, the Shah Jahan mosque is working with local GP practices to provide a COVID-19 vaccination service.

The Shah Jahan Mosque team have been working with local GP practices to promote the vaccine

Professor Aftab Ala, consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist at the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Dr Munira Mohamed, a local GP, organised the vaccinations with the mosque.

Professor Ala said: “I’ve had links with the mosque for the past 15 years, and when we suggested running a vaccination service for the local community there, they were very accommodating.

“This is one of the first faith-centre vaccination services in the south east of England and it’s wonderful to be able to offer vaccinations here for the local community.”

Dr Mohamed, lead GP at Sheerwater Health Centre, added: “It’s good to see so many people coming to the mosque to get their vaccination.

“The idea behind this project was primarily to give the BAME community confidence. We felt that if they could come to a trusted place, they would be more likely to get the vaccination. This has definitely worked.”

Imam Hafiz Hashmi of the mosque added his voice to a statement last month from the Surrey Muslim Association, assuring members of the community that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and Halal.

It followed a national campaign involving celebrities such as actors Adil Ray and Meera Syal, cricketer Moeen Ali, comedian Romesh Ranganathan and former Tory party chairman Sayeeda Warsi, which aimed to counter COVID-19 jab misinformation among ethnic groups.

* For more information about the vaccination programme, visit www.surreyheartlandsccg.nhs.uk

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