Covid vaccine: Reaching out to Somali Camden residents with live event

Cllr Abdul Hai and Cllr Awale Olad

Cllr Abdul Hai and Cllr Awale Olad - Credit: Camden Council

The government’s publication of a "roadmap" for gradually lifting public health restrictions puts us at the start of a path back to a more normal way of life, where a mass vaccination programme and increased rapid testing will help us to get on top of this terrible pandemic. 

Covid-19 has touched us all. Everyone has made real sacrifices in lockdown to protect the NHS and drive down infections. Sadly, many residents will have lost loved ones or know people struggling with the effects of long Covid. 

We know Covid-19 has affected some communities more than others. Levels of deprivation and ethnicity have been key determining factors, with sections of our community hit harder by loss.

This week we are recognising that through a public health webinar aimed specifically at our Somali residents, following a similar online event for Bangladeshi residents a few weeks previously. 

Part of the purpose of the webinar is to recognise the contribution of our Somali residents to Camden. Many Somali residents have stepped up to volunteer and help others during the pandemic, with community organisations like the British Somali Community Centre taking on key roles. 


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We know too that this community has had to make big changes to their religious and cultural practices and in a few weeks our Muslim citizens face a second Ramadan in a row where they will not be able to meet together in person to break fast – an unimaginable isolation in normal times. 

A frontline receptionist receives a Covid-19 vaccination.

A frontline receptionist receives a Covid-19 vaccination. - Credit: PA/Aaron Chown

We also want to create a space for experts to share information with this community and for them to be able to ask questions.

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We are delighted to welcome three Somali doctors from the British Somali Medical Association and Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director of Public Health England, to take questions from the floor and talk through issues that may be concerning them. 

We know that nationally and locally most people intend to have the vaccine. So far, 18 million people in the UK have had the jab and around 95% of all adults over 70 in England have now had their first vaccine dose.

Despite this, there are people across all groups who feel more hesitant or uncertain about getting the vaccines.

National statistics show that uptake of the vaccine is lowest in Black communities to date – and this trend is reflected across London. There are lots of reasons for this that we need to explore and understand. 

We want to ensure our residents have the best available medical information and advice, given with empathy and care, to answer their questions and concerns about the vaccine, so that they can make an informed decision. 

You can join in the Somali citizen webinar on Thursday, February  25, 7.30-9pm, via Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84065404338 or dial in from a landline or mobile phone +44 203 481 5237. You can watch the meeting without participating at youtube.com/camdencouncil

  • Cllr Abdul Hai (Lab, King's Cross) is Camden's cabinet member for young people, equalities and cohesion, and Cllr Awale Olad (Lab, Holborn and Covent Garden), is chair of culture and environment scrutiny committee

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