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Getting Covid jab during Ramadan will not break fast – Muslim NHS workers

By Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent

Getting a coronavirus vaccine during Ramadan will not break the fast observed by Muslims during the religious period, leading Muslim NHS workers said.

NHS staff and Islamic scholars say observing Ramadan should not stop anyone from getting a jab.

Ramadan will this year take place between April 12 and May 12, with Muslims fasting during daylight hours.

Some vaccination sites will stay open later so Muslims can get vaccinated after breaking their fast in the evening.

But Dr Farzana Hussain, a Muslim and GP at The Project Surgery in East London, said there is no need for those adhering to a fast to avoid daylight hours.

She said: “Getting an injection does not break the fast as it’s not nutrition, and so there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t have it if you are eligible and have been invited for your Covid-19 vaccine, and those scheduled for their second dose should take it.

“The Koran says saving your life is the most important thing: to save one life is to save the whole of humanity. It’s a responsibility of a practising Muslim to take their vaccine.”

She added that people concerned about experiencing side effects should remember that breaking the fast to take medication if they fell unwell is also permitted.

Imam Yunus Dudhwala, head of chaplaincy at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “This Ramadan will continue to be different. The vast majority of scholars have deemed taking the vaccine whilst fasting as permissible and stated that it does not break the fast.

“The experts have stated that the Covid-19 vaccine is effective and the best way of protecting yourself and your loved ones. I ask my Muslim brothers and sisters to consider taking the vaccine when called.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and national medical director for primary care, said the vaccine is “entirely appropriate to have during Ramadan”.

She added: “It is vital that people of all faiths feel able to come forward and get the vaccine.”

The NHS Race and Health Observatory joined the Muslim Doctors Association in encouraging the Muslim community to also make use of the twice-weekly lateral flow testing available to the public from Monday.

Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the Observatory, said: “Now is the time to put faith to the test, preserve life and trust the opinion of Islamic scholars and mosque committees who have confirmed both the vaccination and lateral flow tests will not invalidate or break the Ramadan fast.”

The Observatory has previously said that getting a jab during Ramadan is safe for Muslims.

It said concerns had been raised about whether the act of getting the vaccine would break the fast, as well as potential side effects of feeling unwell after being vaccinated, and reservations about taking daily pain relief medication.

Authors of a research paper published this week said there had also been concerns that observing fasting, with its calorific and water restriction, could either exacerbate or predispose people to Covid-19 and cause harm.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Global Health, suggest that practices associated with Ramadan in 2020 did not have detrimental effects on Covid-19 deaths.

The authors, from five UK universities, compared coronavirus death rates in areas of England where Muslims made up more than a fifth of the population to similarly deprived areas with low Muslim populations.

They found that deaths fell steadily in both Muslim areas and control areas over and following the Ramadan period, suggesting fasting had no detrimental effect.

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