Islington's faith leaders unite to combat vaccine hesitancy

Rabbi Baroness Neuberger, Rev. Dr Odejide, Father Allen Alvardo Gil, Cllr Lukes, Rabbi Korer, Cllr Watts.

Rabbi Baroness Neuberger, Rev Dr Odejide, Father Allen Alvardo Gil, Cllr Sue Lukes, Rabbi Korer and Cllr Richard Watts at the Business Design Centre in Islington - Credit: © Adam Scott 2021

Faith leaders came together in a show of unity at Islington's new Covid vaccination hub to allay fears about the jab, telling people: “Vaccines do not kill. The virus does."

The event at the Business Design Centre off Upper Street, Angel - where 2,000 people a day will soon be inoculated - was led by the chair of UCLH, Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger.

Blessings and encouragement were shared by medical doctor-turned-pastor Temi Odejide, Imam Ibrahim, Rabbi Mendy Korer of Chabad Islington and Father Allan Alvarado Gil from the Roman Catholic church of St John the Evangelist in Duncan Terrace, along with councillors. 

The huge exhibition hall, converted into an NHS vaccination centre run by UCLH, opened last week.

Baroness Neuberger said she believed vaccines represented the "best route out of the pandemic". 

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"They are safe and effective," she added.

"Everyone should take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when offered.

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"At UCLH, we have seen first-hand the terrible toll on individuals and families that Covid-19 can bring." 

Over 18m people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine in England in the past four months, but the uptake is being affected by vaccine hesitancy in some quarters.

Since the first cases were reported last year, conspiracy theories began circulating, which included myths about the virus being a secret ploy by pharmaceutical companies to sell a vaccine and suggesting business magnate Bill Gates was creating a tracking device to be implanted in a vaccine.

Reticence to be vaccinated hasn't been helped by the fact that some countries, including Demark, Norway and Iceland, have halted the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs amid fears they cause blood clots - although Europe's own medical regulator, the European Medicines Agency, has said there is no clear link.

Rev Dr Odejide, who studied medicine in Nigeria before moving to London where he heads the House on the Rock London Church in Tufnell Park Road, told his peers in Islington: “Vaccines are not our enemy - the virus is. 

"The vaccines are a valiant and effective way to stop this deadly virus. We really should not be fighting what is meant to help us.”

Rabbi Korer, Dominic Jones, Imam Ibrahim, Rev Dr Odejide and Father Allen Alvardo Gil at the Business Design Centre

Rabbi Korer, Dominic Jones CEO of the Business Design Centre (leading on pillar), Imam Ibrahim, Rev Dr Odejide and Father Allen Alvardo Gil - Credit: © Adam Scott 2021

Rabbi Korer said the vaccination hub had been opened at a very "auspicious time", just before the festival of Passover.

He continued: "May we all see the redemption from Covid-19." 

Fr Allan Alvarado Gil added: "Accepting the vaccine is an act of love for our society and our loved ones, especially those most vulnerable.”

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