COVID-19 vaccine does not break Ramadan fast, UK-Muslim medical experts urge

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Taking a COVID-19 vaccine will not break a Muslim’s fast during Ramadan, British Islamic medical groups said after concerns were raised ahead of the holy month.

“Taking the COVID-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate the fast, as per the opinion of Islamic scholars. Individuals should not delay their COVID vaccinations on the account of Ramadan,” the British Islamic Medical Association said in a statement.

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“Subcutaneous, subdermal, intramuscular, interosseous, or intra-articular injections for non-nutritional purposes whilst fasting does not invalidate the fast, regardless of the injected content entering the blood circulation. These routes are not classed as entry sites that would invalidate the fast. Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as an intramuscular injection, the only route for the vaccines currently available, therefore does not invalidate the fast,” the medical association added in its statement.

Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar and is expected to run from April 12 until May 12 this year. More than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world will mark the month, during which believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, and having marital relations from dawn until sunset. They also try to avoid evil thoughts and deeds.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is also one of the five pillars of Islam. It is followed by the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The NHS Race and Health Observatory’s director, Dr Habib Naqvi, told The Independent newspaper said there were some concerns for Muslims taking the vaccine during the daytime and feeling unwell after being vaccinated, with some concerns being raised about taking pain relief medication post-vaccination.

“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,” Naqvi told The Independent.

In December, the United Arab Emirates’ Fatwa Council, the country’s highest Islamic authority, issued a ruling allowing Muslims to receive coronavirus vaccines even if they contain “non-halal ingredients” such as pork gelatin.

“Coronavirus vaccination is classified under preventive medicines for individuals, as recommended by the Islamic faith, particularly in times of pandemic diseases when the healthy happen to be prone to infections due to the high risk of contracting the disease, therefore posing risk to the entire society,” the council said at the time.

Spokespeople for Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have said that pork products are not part of their COVID-19 vaccines. But limited supply and preexisting deals worth millions of dollars with other companies means that some countries with large Muslim populations, such as Indonesia, will receive vaccines that have not yet been certified to be gelatin-free, according to the Associated Press.

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