Nadhim Zahawi, the British vaccine deployment minister, attended a Motzoei Shabbos event in Hackney, organized by local kehillah organizations and NHS City and Hackney GP Confederation, at which over 255 members of the chareidi kehillah were vaccinated against COVID-19.
The vaccinations were carried out by local GPs together with Hatzola volunteers, who have been supporting the London Ambulance Service throughout the pandemic. The volunteers received special training in order to administer the vaccines.
The event was part of a series of similar vaccine drives aiming to boost vaccine uptake in vulnerable and underserved groups, and attracted other local people from outside the kehillah. It was supported by Hackney Council, NHS City and Hackney Clinical Commission Group (CCG), Strengthening Faith Institutions and the Ostro Fayre Share Foundation.
Rabbi Binyomin Stern, president of the UOHC, and a trustee of Hatzola said, “Across the community, we understand the urgent need for as many people as possible to be vaccinated. There has already been a very high take-up of the vaccine from within the priority groups across the community and we are very grateful to Hackney Council and Hackney CCG for helping us organize this event.
“At Hatzola we have been proud to play our part and support the NHS during such a challenging period. We are, likewise, pleased to participate in the vaccination program and help vaccinate as many people as possible. Our fantastic, hard-working volunteers give up their own time to volunteer with us and we are hugely thankful for the dedication they have shown over the past year.”
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney said, “This vaccination event with the chareidi community is a great example of grassroots groups working together to help keep people safe from coronavirus. We are hoping to replicate this work with other voluntary groups and communities; harnessing Hackney’s wonderful community spirit and the knowledge within our diverse communities to ensure people from all sorts of backgrounds are able to access the vaccine.”
Zahawi praised the event on social media, saying “Huge thanks to local NHS, Hackney Council and first responders in the Hatzola Ambulance Service who are encouraging vaccination in the Jewish community. Vaccines will save thousands of lives and help us get out of the pandemic.”
Joel Friedman of the Interlink Foundation said, “This trial event is a display of how a community can come together, with the support of the NHS and local and national government to deliver on our united goal of making vaccination more accessible. We hope to see more of such events in the near future and to continue this collaborative approach in supporting local communities across the country.”