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Faith leaders join government in bid to boost booster campaign

by Donna Birrell

Faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury have joined forces with the government to support the booster drive in the wake of a surge of Omicron cases. 

The Most Rev Justin Welby joined members of the Prime Minister's Places of Worship Taskforce, Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, the Imam at the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Community (KSIMC) in Birmingham and the General Secretary of the Hindu Council, Rajnish Kashyap at a meeting with the Faith Minister Kemi Badenoch. The Minister called on their urgent support in increasing booster uptake. 
Senior NHS figures were also present at the summit, which discussed areas where faith leaders' support will be most welcome.

Faith leaders have played a vital role throughout the pandemic, from backing the vaccine drive, to making sure people practice their faith safely, and adapting places of worship into pop-up soup kitchens and food banks.
 The UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world, with more than 85 per cent of adults double jabbed so far, allowing people to come together in places of worship, to practice their faith safely.
However, data shows that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are currently less likely to take up the vaccine.

Kemi 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.
"Vaccines are our best defence against Omicron - I therefore urge faith communities, and everyone, to book yourself in today and join the national fight against this virus."

The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

"Faith and local community leaders have played a vital role supporting the COVID-19 vaccine programme from the very beginning. 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.

"We're working with the NHS to provide advice and information at every opportunity on how to get a vaccine and the protection it provides. 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."



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