By Eddie Bisknell
A Normanton pharmacist has given his own father the Covid-19 vaccine on the first day of the roll-out by community pharmacies in Derbyshire.
Aftab Rehman, lead pharmacist at Pear Tree Pharmacy in Normanton, started the vaccine roll-out with his colleagues at the Ikhlas Community Centre in Clarence Road on Thursday (January 28).
The community centre has been converted into a vaccination site in two weeks, with local firm Pride and Care working around the clock to kit it out for its new role, all for the exact cost of the materials.
It is one of three sites run by pharmacies, alongside Amber Pharmacy in Horsley Woodhouse and Good Life Pharmacy in Hatton, to be starting the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in Derbyshire on Thursday.
All three are vaccinating residents from community buildings, not from their own premises, and jabs are available by appointment only.
Rehman has been administering his father’s annual flu vaccine for several years and the two have a very trusting relationship.
Rehman and his father, Rehmat Khan, aged 85, and his mother Anait Begum, aged 80, have lived in Normanton for decades – just two streets from the community centre.
Khan and his wife purposely deferred their appointments at Derby Arena so that their son could be the person to administer their vaccines. Begum could not make this morning’s appointment due to a slight fever so it will be rebooked.
Talking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Rehman told of his pride in administering his father’s vaccination and the impact he hopes having a local vaccination site in Normanton will have on the community, where he was born and raised.
He also spoke of the importance, particularly among minority and Muslim communities, to show the vaccine is not something to fear, but to be grasped when people are contacted for their appointments.
Rehman said: “I am proud and honoured to give my dad his vaccine. He has had a tough year and hasn’t been out of the house in the past five to seven months, and in the past year has only been out for doctor’s appointments.
“He is diabetic, an ex-stroke patient and is over 80 so he is very high risk due to all of that. If he got Covid that would be it for him.
“Now he has had his vaccine we can breathe a little easier and relax a little bit, but there is still a long way to go yet. But I am relieved.
“I am proud that I could be the one to give him his vaccine, and just two streets from his house, where I grew up.
“A lot of people around here fear the vaccine because of the myths and conspiracy theories so we have a page on our website, and so does the community centre, debunking those.
“Personally, I believe that when people see I will give the vaccine to my own father, they will understand that it is safe. I wouldn’t put my parents at risk.
“I would urge people in the community to book an appointment online as soon as they can when they receive their letter. You have a local vaccination centre in the community and I urge everyone to come when they can. Let’s get out of this pandemic.”
Khan also spoke to the LDRS. He said: “I’ve been inside since March and have spent a lot of that time in bed. I am recovering from a stroke and had brain surgery. I am happy to be getting my vaccine today.
“I am doing this to help my son and to help our community and I want to help everyone in the community I live in. I am proud of Aftab who is doing everything he can to help and to make sure everyone in the community also has the vaccine.”
Shazada Begum was the first patient to receive a Covid vaccine from the community centre. She and her husband, Abdul Rehman, were mayoress and mayor of Derby from 1998 to 1999 and have lived in Derby for more than 60 years, and are now in their 80s.
Begum said: “It has been a very hard year, very hard. It is so sad to have seen so many people dying. Everyone has been finding it difficult. I think it is good that everyone has the vaccine and would want them to do the same as me.”
Rehman was Derby’s first Muslim councillor and received an MBE in 2010 for his public services. He has had his vaccine and said he was very pleased to have a local vaccination site in Normanton, and said: “We need unity in the community.
“I am very proud to be able to tell everyone to come here. It is very important particularly for a minority community and especially the Muslim community to take this opportunity, and I want them to know there is no need for fear at all. This is your life and you can help protect it and others.”
Pear Tree Pharmacy staff will be administering jabs at the Ikhlas Community Centre from 8am until 8pm every day of the week, by appointment only.