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While Fasting During Ramadan, Muslims Question Whether To Get Vaccinated


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.


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.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.