It’s big, it’s bold, it’s becoming a familiar sight in Swansea Bay and now the Immbulance, the vaccination clinic on wheels, has made the Port Talbot Mosque its latest port of call.
The Immbulance, a former mobile library converted by Neath Port Talbot Council staff into a mobile vaccination unit, is now run by Swansea Bay University Health Board professionals.
The mobile clinic has been invaluable in reaching those in Swansea Bay who are unable to travel to vaccination centres or GP surgeries, either because of poor transport links or mobility issues.
After Public Health Wales reported a lower uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, representatives of local BAME communities started a campaign to dispel fear, disprove myths and encourage people to get vaccinated.
Medical professionals, faith and community leaders, and other local people, launched the Tell Me More Campaign in March this year and have been sharing information from trusted sources about Covid-19 vaccines.
The visit by the Immbulance to the Port Talbot Mosque on Monday (May 17th) was part of the campaign and a large number of people connected to the Port Talbot Mosque were given vaccinations in the vehicle on the day.
The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) has confirmed none of the currently available Covid-19 vaccines contain pork or other animal ingredients and the organisation has also made it clear the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine contains less ethanol (alcohol) than the amount usually found in bread or natural foods.
BIMA’s website says: “Many scholars have deemed the Oxford AZ Vaccine to be permissible as the amount of ethanol is negligible. The religious permissibility of any product is for scholars to decide, so please refer to those you trust.”
The Port Talbot Mosque’s Imam Ashraf received his first vaccination dose in the Fairfield Surgery in Sandfields, Port Talbot, earlier this year when he said there were “far more” benefits to the vaccine than “damages”.
“We don’t want to lose more of our loved ones," he added. "We have lost many of them. It’s better to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
Imam Ashraf added of the latest visit: “Port Talbot Mosque would like to express its gratitude to NHS staff who have played a vital role during the pandemic.
“We are happy to take part in protecting the NHS and wider community by taking part in the Covid-19 vaccination programme to help us come out of lockdown and return to the ‘new normal’.
“It is essential we do all we can to avoid the situation we see in other parts of the world where Covid-19 has ravaged communities and stretched emergency services beyond their limits.”
Latest vaccine statistics for the Swansea Bay area:
Figures correct as of 9am on Monday, May 24th.
A total of 375,428 vaccinations have been given (a combination of first and second doses) in the Swansea Bay UHB area.
Link to Swansea Bay University Health Board for further advice on Covid-19 vaccines for BAME communities: https://sbuhb.nhs.wales/go/covid-19-vaccines-advice-for-black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-communities/