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While Fasting During Ramadan, Muslims Question Whether To Get Vaccinated

NOEL KING, HOST:

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan started a few weeks ago, right as it was becoming easier to get a COVID vaccine. And so some Muslims are wondering if they should get a shot while fasting. Here's Lisa Ryan of WCPN Ideastream.

LISA RYAN, BYLINE: Lydia Rose wanted to get the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine before Ramadan started.

LYDIA ROSE: I was kind of concerned about it. Of course, you just got to take whatever shot's available when you register, right?

RYAN: It was Moderna, and her second dose fell when she was supposed to be fasting from sunrise to sunset. Such worries have led to a widespread campaign to reassure Muslims. The medical journal The Lancet calls for outreach. The British Islamic Medical Association produced this video with Imam Mohammed Mahmoud.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO, "RAMADAN & COVID - MESSAGE FROM MUSLIM SCHOLARS")

MOHAMMED MAHMOUD: Those who will observe the fast this Ramadan, rest assured, the vast majority of scholars state that it is permissible to take the vaccine whilst fasting.

RYAN: The vaccine is not considered nutrition. Still, fasting is a form of worship, and Rose had another concern - that the vaccine might give her side effects, like a fever, and she'd need to drink water. But if that happened, she knew it would be OK.

ROSE: If you do experience side effects and you can't fast, you're exempt from fasting, and you would make that day up later on within the year before the next Ramadan.

RYAN: In Dearborn, Mich., which has a large Muslim population, one clinic offered vaccines from 9 p.m. to midnight for those who might still be hesitant. Faheem Shaikh, president of the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent, says he's not sure everyone has been convinced.

FAHEEM SHAIKH: Some people still want to err on the side of caution, right? They may want to wait until after Ramadan to get their shot.

RYAN: As for Rose, she says the vaccine keeps her and others safe from COVID-19, and protecting life is an important message of the Islamic faith.

For NPR News, I'm Lisa Ryan in Cleveland.

(SOUNDBITE OF YONDERLING'S "AQUAMARINE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.