Ramadan 2021 is set to fall during the UK’s current vaccination rollout – leaving questions for worshippers about whether they will be able to get the jab.
In the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a month during which Muslims abstain from food, drink, sex, smoking and ‘sinful behaviour’ from sunrise to sunset each day.
It often raises issues about any medication or personal care that could be seen as breaking the rules of keeping the body pure and clean during the fast.
This year, the coronavirus vaccine has become part of those conversations.
But getting a Covid-19 jab during Ramadan IS safe for Muslims, a centre set up to investigate the impact of race and ethnicity on people’s health has declared.
The NHS Race and Health Observatory said it had been made aware of inquiries about vaccine uptake during the 30-day holy period.
This year, Ramadan is expected to start on April 12 or 13 and last until around May 12, with exact dates to be confirmed nearer the time after verified moon sightings.
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.
Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the observatory, said: “We need to tackle and address early concerns raised by Muslim communities who may be offered their vaccinations whilst fasting and working in frontline and supporting roles.
“There is no reason why a first or second dose vaccine cannot be administered during Ramadan. The content is halal, and receiving it will not invalidate the Ramadan fast, as per the opinion of Islamic scholars.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has required sacrifices from all NHS staff. Muslims have additional challenges during Ramadan by having to function without sustenance during working hours.
“We do not want to put these communities at any unnecessary risk by not accepting their first or second dose of the vaccination if offered.”
He added that the virus had “made many of our black and minority ethnic communities even more vulnerable”.
Dr Naqvi continued: “If coronavirus restrictions remain in place this Ramadan, the message is, whether working or shielding, take the vaccine and help protect yourself and your community.”
The Observatory said Ramadan is one of a number of forthcoming faith periods and festivals, including Passover, Easter, Vaisakhi, and Eid – which marks the end of Ramadan – which is likely to be celebrated amid some Covid-19 restrictions and adapted practices.
Dr Hina Shahid, chair of the Muslim Doctors Association, said: “This has been a unique time globally, with festivals of Ramadan and Eid occurring during the peak of Covid-19.
“Muslims and other faith communities have met these challenges head on; it was inspiring to see the community using technology for prayer and sharing images of iftar with family and friends at the start of the pandemic.
“Obviously, during the pandemic these festivities and norms have been very different.
Dr Shahid added: “Vaccination is one of our biggest tools to make sure we can go back to normal soon, including celebrating festivals with our loved ones when it is safe to do so.
“I encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they get called, including during Ramadan, and to discuss any concerns with their GP.”