A MOSQUE leader has spoken out to try and tackle misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccination.

Hafiz Mohammad Sajid, the chief imam at the Al Mustafa Centre, in Middlesbrough, has been trying to raise confidence in the vaccination among the Muslim community, which has been disproportionately affected by the virus.

He said: "With the vaccination being rolled out, we hope and pray that in due course this will bring some sense of normality to our lives.

“We have received guidance from The British Board of Scholars & Imams (BBSI), who have consulted various experts in infectious diseases as well as sought scholarly opinion on the issues of vaccination.

“The Tees Valley Muslim Council members, on the advice of our national bodies, therefore give a clear and unequivocal message that individuals should take the Covid-19 vaccine on the advice of their medical practitioner following informed consent.

“We are of the belief that this will protect the community members from a probable and considerable risk of harm from Covid-19 infection.

“There appears to be an abundance of ‘fake news’ on the subject of the vaccination and Covid-19, so it is important to verify any news you receive before acting upon it or forwarding on, as this can cause panic and easily spread during a crisis.”

South Tees Joint Director of Public Health Mark Adams said: “Sadly there is lots of misinformation relating to the Covid vaccine.

“It’s really important that influential voices within all our communities do their bit to encourage people to come forward for their vaccine when it’s their turn. I’d like to thank the chief imam for helping to keep people safe.”

The chief imam added: “The British Muslim community has been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 with excess cases and deaths. One third of those from minority backgrounds in the UK are Muslim, and these communities have had a similarly high burden from Covid-19.

“Mosques play a central role in our communities. They are essential for public life, not just as places of worship, but also as houses of Allah (God), which strengthen our faith and provide us with spiritual nourishment at a time of great distress.

“All the mosques in the Tees Valley sub-region have been outstanding at protecting our communities, and have played a pivotal role in disseminating and amplifying the NHS guidance to ensure our communities stay safe and protected throughout the pandemic”

Middlesbrough Council is working closely with community groups through its Covid Champions network.

The network supports groups who may be at higher risk from Covid. For more information visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/covidchampions

The NHS is contacting people in priority groups when it’s their turn for the vaccine and people are being encouraged not to contact their GP surgery to inquire about appointments until notified.