Covid vaccine: 'Jab does not break fast' Muslim experts say as Ramadan begins

Video report by ITV News Northern Reporter Sangita Lal

Covid jabs do not invalidate fasting during Ramadan, Muslim health and religious experts have said.

In an effort to allay concerns about vaccines interfering with the Islamic month of fasting, imams, medics and scholars have released guidance for Muslims in the UK.

Dr Shehla Imtiaz-Umer, a GP and British Islamic Medical Association representative, said Muslims must not put their jab on hold during Ramadan.

Derby GP Dr Imtiaz-Umer spoke to ITV News about the guidance

"There have been concerns from some Muslims regarding the permissibility of having the vaccine while fasting," she said.

"Our reassurance from the British Islamic Medical Association, in line with scholarly advice, is that it will not invalidate your fast and if you are offered the vaccine, please go ahead with it."

Dr Farzana Hussain, a Muslim GP based in east London, echoed this sentiment.

She said: “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 practicing Muslim to take their vaccine.”

During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Muslims abstain from food and drink, amongst other things, during daylight hours. Fasting began in April this year and will take place for thirty days. In an online guide, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) wrote that an injection administered into a muscle for non-nutritional purposes cannot break a fast.

"Receiving the Covid-19 vaccine as an intramuscular injection, the only route for the vaccines currently available does not invalidate the fast," it said.

The organisation added that Muslims are permitted to eat and drink during daylight hours should they experience significant side-effects after taking the jab.

However, it added that "most side effects are mild, lasting a few hours, and are self-limiting".

Efforts to address vaccine hesitancy during Ramadan come as statistics show ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately hit by Covid-19, while Muslims are more likely than any other religious groups to not have received the vaccine.

The ONS found the odds of not having the vaccine were three times greater for Muslims compared with Christians.It is the second year in a row that Ramadan has begun under coronavirus restrictions.Last year, celebrations in places like homes, community centres and mosques were inhibited. This year, strict health and safety protocols have been put in place across the UK to allow the holy month to go ahead.

Sahera Ibrahim wakes her family for Suhoor - a meal eaten before sunrise during Ramadan

The East London Mosque and Muslim Centre, one of the largest mosques in Europe and the biggest in the UK, has tightened its opening times and shortened its prayer time, which is usually two hours long. The mosque has asked that worshippers bring their own prayer mats and bags for shoes, with sanitation stations and a one-way system in place. No one under the age of 12 is permitted to attend. Traditionally, the mosque hosts a big meal after sunset so everyone can break their fast together but this year donations are being made to the mosque’s foodbank instead.