The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has described a Hatzola pop-up vaccine centre in the heart of the Orthodox Jewish community as “a game changer and a life-saver”.
Speaking to Jewish News on Sunday after visiting the John Scott centre in Hackney’s Green Lanes, the mayor said: “I have been very concerned about the fact that the infection rates [of coronavirus] in the Orthodox Jewish community were incredibly high.”
What’s fantastic about today is Hatzola — who are so well respected in the local community — have been working with the NHS and Hackney Council, encouraging a vaccine take-up.”
This is the third week of a specific clinic focused on Orthodox Jewish Londoners, and it’s brilliant news.”
Mr Khan said that about 300 people had arrived at the centre to receive the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, administered by a combination of NHS staff and trained Hatzola volunteers. Those eligible were people in the 50+ age group, together with carers. The mayor said that the aim was “to take the vaccine to where people are. This kind of clinic gives people confidence, because they are getting the vaccines from people they trust.”
Hatzola, the mayor said, would continue to run the pop-up clinics “for as long as they are needed”, though he believed it might be necessary to have different ways of attracting younger people to get vaccinated.
He was also encouraged, he said, by the fact that it wasn’t just Orthodox Jews who were benefiting from the vaccine drive. “At least one local Muslim resident turned up to be vaccinated by a green-t-shirted Hatzola volunteer — more proof that we are all in this together”.
Together with London’s faith communities we're sending the message loud and clear: the Covid vaccines are independently tested, safe and effective. pic.twitter.com/o7xQNeTX2m
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 21, 2021
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”