A frontline doctor has revealed what he says to people who say they do not want the Covid vaccine.

Dr Zahid Chauhan has worked continuously during the pandemic.

The dedicated medic and dad has helped patients and friends stay safe during the lockdowns and has witnessed hundreds of people who have tragically died after contracting the virus.

Sadly the deaths have included some of his close family members, friends, and patients, the MEN has reported.

Dr Chauhan says he wants people to have the vaccine when it is offered to them and has revealed what he tells those who are reluctant.

He said: “When people come into my office and say they don’t want to get the vaccine I look at them and ask ‘so if you get Covid, what should I do at that stage? What should I think about?’

“We’re fortunate that the state is offering that chance to protect our lives.

“I’ve seen at least 1,000 people who’ve died from Covid, including some patients I’m the family doctor for – I’ve become part of their family, and when you lose them it really hurts.

“When people say Covid doesn’t exist I see all those faces – the faces of elderly people in care homes I’ve gone to in the middle of the night to verify the deaths of.

“Go and ask their family members, or patients with Covid, about what they’ve been through and see if it doesn’t exist.”

Dr Chauhan has watched as friends and colleagues were put on ventilators after falling ill with the virus, with medicine tragically unable to save all of their lives.

In May 2020, he was forced to bury his friend and colleague, Dr Saad Al-Dubbaisi, a 59-year-old GP from Bury.

Dr Al-Dubbaisi was the first GP in Greater Manchester to die with coronavirus.

Working as the clinical lead for death certification across the region, Dr Chauhan was called out to verify hundreds of deaths during the first wave of the pandemic.

He would often be called to care homes in the middle of the night to confirm that a resident had tragically died.

“Personally it’s changed lots of things in my life,” he added.

“Seeing all these deaths and then going home and trying to sleep, I’d be thinking about what it must be like being on a ventilator and I’d see that in my dreams.

“It also made me more determined to carry out my work.

“I will do whatever I can and give 110%, I might not have tomorrow but I do have today.

“Vaccinating the first homeless person in the world against Covid-19 was one of the most powerful moments of my life.

“Just being able to speak on behalf of the people who can’t speak for themselves is so important – there’s no council of homeless to fight for their needs.

“We just want to help people, we don’t want them to die.”

The part-time GP did a lot of work to make sure homeless people would be able to access the coronavirus vaccine.

He ensured those without a permanent place to stay, and those not registered to a healthcare practitioner, were considered, becoming the first person in the world to vaccinate a homeless person against Covid-19.

The NHS have now agreed to add the homeless to their vaccination priority list.

Now, Dr Chauhan is working to quell a lot of the false information being spread about the Covid-19 vaccine.

He added: “People queue up for antibiotics and will ask why they can’t have them and then you’re being offered something that can prevent the infection and some people are reluctant to have it.

“Some people are concerned about the vaccine changing your DNA – I’ve done hundreds of vaccinations and I’ve not seen anyone turn into monkeys or change in any way.

“There’s also no microchips in them, the state doesn’t have that kind of money.

“By not having the vaccination you’re not only making the wrong decision for yourself but for others as well.

“If you get infected you might affect my mother who’s poorly and make her very unwell – you wouldn’t like a drunk person driving behind you on the road would you?

“A lot of the time it’s not that people don’t want to take the vaccine, it’s just that they want their concerns to be addressed.”

Dr Chauhan was one of the people speaking at a vaccination uptake and engagement programme at the European Islamic Centre on Manchester Road.

Run by Oldham Mosques Council (OMC), the event aimed to pass on the truth about vaccinations to key figures in the Muslim community.

Abdul Basit Shah, acting chair of the OMC, organised the series after just 28% of Muslims in the area said they would get the Covid-19 jab.

He said: “We sent a short survey around when the news of the vaccine approval hit and found that 50% of people wouldn’t take the vaccine, and 22% weren’t sure on whether they’d have it.

“It was alarming that there was a huge number of people who felt that way, so we started thinking about what we could do.

“People don’t know what to do, they get all kinds of information from all angles on social media, it’s taken over their lives.

“It’s in their hands, their pockets, it’s so easy for people to share misinformation that you can easily fact check but at that point the damage is done.

“We’re in repair mode now trying to make sure people have the right information, and can hear it from sources they trust far more than social media.”

So far, seven training sessions have been delivered to imams, community leaders, and volunteers in the Muslim community, with five sessions still to take place.

Earlier this week, a session passed on the vital details to key female members of the community, giving the information a chance to reach an even higher portion of the community.

After attending the session, 30 imams have agreed to take the vaccine to prove to their congregation that it is safe, effective, and important.

Mufti Helal, coordinator for the OMC, added: “We have 30 imams who want to take the vaccine which is so important because so people look up to them, they’re role models in the community.

“That will outweigh all the misinformation on social media.

“The message is picking up and the messages we’ve received have become more positive, they were quite negative in the first week.

“Because we’re working with local leaders and local people, it’s working – people trust the local leaders and people seeing this won’t need to ask, they’ll trust that the vaccine is good for them if the people they trust think the same.

“This is a pandemic, we’re in it together and this is a chance from Allah, if we stay together and strong we will get through this.”

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