A CHADDERTON GP has launched a campaign for Oldhamers to become ambassadors for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Anita Sharma at Chadderton Health Centre wants residents of the town to follow the example of one of her patients who messaged all her friends minutes after being inoculated.

Sixty-six-year-old Devinda Nath was determined to let people know that staff at her local surgery were, “very nice and very helpful” and that the serum, “did no harm and made me feel so relieved”.

And with warnings from government minister Nadhim Zahawi that the coronavirus, “could spread like wildfire” within the BAME community, she and husband Jatinder - both Hindus - have joined forces with members of the Muslim, Sikh, and other prominent faith groups in dismissing damaging myths about the content of the Covid-19 jab.

Jatinder said: “My friends and family are willing to go for the vaccine, but I have heard people say we shouldn’t, and one person even told me there was no such thing as the virus.

“I had a slight temperature afterwards, but other than that I was fine. The whole thing took ten minutes.”

Rumours about side-effects, plus the vaccine containing pork derivatives and even data chips to trace people have been vehemently denied by medics – including Dr Sharma, who has organised the united for vaccines campaign.

Dr Sharma said: “Conspiracy theories about moon landings and UFOs might seem like harmless fun but discouraging people from having the COVID-19 vaccine could actually cost lives.

"I myself have had it as have members of my family and the team at South Chadderton. Have there been any adverse reactions, serious illnesses or even deaths in the UK as a direct result of the vaccine? No.”

Dr Bilal Butt made a similar appeal to Oldham’s Muslim community to have the jab, saying: “There are three main groups of people within the Islamic community, those who are for the vaccine, those definitely against because of social media myth around the vaccine’s origin, side-effects and usage, and people who are unsure having heard both sides of the argument.

"I tell my patients that I have had the vaccine and remind them about trust. You would not knock on a pilot’s door before taking off in a plane – so why doubt a doctor’s word?”

The acknowledged brains behind the Pfizer-Bio N Tech vaccine are Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, who are Turkish Muslims from Germany.

Figures released recently show that over 50,000 vaccines have been administered in the Oldham area so far and the borough held the first vaccination clinic for the homeless in sheltered accommodation in mid-January.

Dr Sharma concluded: “It was heartening to hear that Mr and Mrs Nath had not only had their vaccination but crucially encouraged others to do so – within minutes. That is an example we should all follow, remembering that the best information is often received word-of-mouth, from those we love.”

Dr Sharma plans to take the promotion of vaccines to mosques, temples, synagogues, and other places of worship plus community centres, shortly.

Her comments follow those of leading Oldham GP and councillor Dr Zahin Chauhan reported in The Oldham Times last week urging members of the Muslim community to take up the offer of a vaccine - event during Ramadan, which runs from April 17 to May 17, on the grounds that the protection of life is the foremost philosophy in the Islamic faith.