By: Sarwar Alam
In order to encourage people fasting during Ramadan to get the coronavirus vaccine, the Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham is to offer the jab after sunset and late in the evening. The centre is offering vaccination appointments on Friday and Saturday after 9pm.
The service is being offered in partnership with NHS England and will continue until the end of Ramadan. People eligible for vaccination and fall into the priority groups are being asked to bring with them a photo ID.
Islamic scholars and NHS leaders have raised concerns that the fasting period may discourage some people to refrain from getting the jab. However, the British Islamic Medical Association has issued assurances that having the vaccination will not break the fast.
“All Islamic scholars who are authorities on Islamic laws have said there is nothing wrong for us to take the vaccine, whether in the morning or in the afternoon or at night, there is nothing… to worry about,” said Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, an imam at the Balsall Heath centre.
Referring to possible side effects of the vaccine, Dr Samara Afzal, lead GP at the Dudley vaccination centre, said if anyone was concerned about possibly having a reaction and then taking paracetamol with water should try to book their jab at about midday.
“We know it takes about eight to 10 hours to get the side effects… fever, the aches, and so by the time it’s eight, nine o’clock it’ll be time to have your evening meal so then you can take paracetamol,” Dr Afzal said.
Dr Afzal added that if someone continues to feel unwell after receiving the jab, they can miss the fast and that it is allowed in Islam.
“That’s not just me saying that; Islamic scholars say you can make up that fast later,” she said.
The GP at Netherton Health Centre said people need to have their vaccine on schedule, particularly if it’s the second dose because immunity levels might drop further if people wait for another month.
Muslims undertaking Ramadan are advised to refrain “from anything entering the body” between sunrise and sunset. Qari Asim, an imam in Leeds, said because the vaccine goes into the muscle, rather than the bloodstream, it is not regarded as nutrition, and therefore it does not amount to breaking the fast.