The fasting period, from sunrise to sunset, each day of the holy month of Ramadan starts Tuesday, and includes no food or drink, which has led some members of Ontario’s Muslim community to turn to religious and health experts for guidance.
Aarij Anwer, interim imam and Islamic education co-ordinator with the London Muslim Mosque, said community members have asked him if they are permitted to get vaccinated while fasting.
“This is their question, ‘Can I take it? I got the appointment on this day of April and then we’ll be fasting on that day. What do I do, write it off?’ Those are the most frequently asked questions. The answer is you can take your vaccine shot. No problem.”
Anwer said he’s trying to tackle the confusion and misinformation about the vaccines, as well as encourage Muslims to get vaccinated.
“That is something that we are encouraging Muslims to take, as part of their commitment to their faith, as part of their commitment to their well-being.”
Referring to Islamic agencies both in North America and internationally, Anwer said there is an understanding the vaccine does not physically break a person’s fast.
“Non-nutritious injections, for example vaccines, have no effect on the fast and will not invalidate the fast. A person can take this and their fast will continue to be intact.”
Nour Al-Farawi, a primary-care nurse practitioner, said it’s important for everyone, including Muslims, to get the vaccine as soon as they are able to, even if it’s during the month of Ramadan.
“It is well established that intramuscular injection is not a form of sustenance or food, and therefore is permissible,” Al-Farawi said.
“I do want to stress we are in the third wave of this pandemic and it’s important, now more than ever, to keep ourselves and others around us safe and healthy, and this vaccine rollout is unlike any we may have experienced in the past,” she said.
For those concerned about possible side-effects of the vaccine while fasting, Al-Farawi said most are mild and do not last long.
“If there’s anything that’s stopping you, make sure you’re making an informed decision before you decide not to get [the vaccine],” said Al-Farawi. “I can’t stress enough that it’s very important at this time.”
Keeping well during fasting period
The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force, which provides culturally appropriate guidance and messaging around the coronavirus for Muslim communities across Canada, echoed the same advice for Muslims.
“This year, the COVID-19 vaccine will likely be available to many individuals during the month of Ramadan,” the task force’s website reads. “Everyone is recommended to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, and without delay.”
Under the task force’s guidelines for fasting this year, it notes that getting tested for COVID-19 while fasting, or taking the vaccine, doesn’t break a fast.
“It is not necessary to eat before or right after vaccination. Staying hydrated and eating nourishing suhoors [meal before sunrise] will help ensure that we are staying well for activities during Ramadan, including vaccination,” the website reads.
The task force says individuals who feel worsening side-effects after getting the shot and feel that it will worsen if they continue to fast are permitted to stop.
COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Middlesex-London are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily; all appointments are booked in advance through the covidvaccinelm.ca website or by phone at 226-289-3560.