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Faith leaders join call in booster drive amid Omicron surge



Faith leaders are supporting the Government in its bid to increase the uptake of booster jabs as Omicron cases surge.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Imam Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, the Secretary General of the Hindu Council, and members of the Prime Minister’s Places of Worship Taskforce are urging people to get the jab.

Faith minister Kemi Badenoch on Thursday met with religious leaders to thank them for their work and ask for their support in increasing booster uptake.

Faith minister Kemi Badenoch said ‘everyone from every community’ must come forward (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

The Government said while the UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world – with more than 85% of adults double jabbed so far – data shows people from black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds are less likely to take up the vaccine.

Ms Badenoch said: “More than 25 million people have already received their booster jab, helping to keep themselves, their friends and family safe this winter but we need everyone from every community to come forward to get ahead of this virus.

“This is why I have joined up with leaders from across all the major faiths to ask people of every denomination to come forward and support this huge national effort.”

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the public should do “everything we can” to support NHS staff.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is one of several faith leaders to have joined calls to drive booster uptake (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

He said: “Jesus Christ teaches us about loving our neighbour as ourselves – and this pandemic has reminded us how vital that teaching is. None of us are safe until all of us are safe: we are all each other’s neighbours. I want to encourage everyone, whatever your faith and background, to get boosted as soon as you can. It’s our best hope of keeping everyone safe this Christmas and beyond.”

Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, Imam at the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Community (KSIMC) in Birmingham, said everyone needed to “come together” to fight the spread of coronavirus.

He added: “The best way to do so is to go for our jabs, otherwise we will not go back to some sort of normality.”

Rajnish Kashyap, Secretary General of the Hindu Council UK, said: “If you are unvaccinated then please come forward and take the vaccines. If you have taken both vaccines then it is time for you to take a booster.

“If you can take those small steps, small precautions, you can help society.”

All eligible adults aged over 18 can get their booster from a walk-in vaccination centre or book online through the National Booking Service following updates to the programme this week.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Faith and local community leaders have played a vital role supporting the Covid-19 vaccine programme from the very beginning.

It is never too late to get your vaccine, whether it’s your first, second or third

“Thank you to everyone who is uniting behind this national mission, spreading the word about the life-saving benefits of the vaccines and encouraging people to roll up their sleeves and get boosted now.

“Today’s discussion with faith leaders is another opportunity to listen to views from across the country and join forces to get ahead in the race against the Omicron variant.

“It is never too late to get your vaccine, whether it’s your first, second or third. Please come forward and get protected for yourself, your family and your community.”

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