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Leading Muslim NHS doctors are today stressing that having a life-saving COVID vaccine during Ramadan does not break the daylight hours fast with the NHS spring booster campaign now underway.
Resident TV doctor Dr Nighat Arif, a GP in Buckinghamshire, and Dr Farzana Hussain, a senior GP in East London and 2019 GP of the year, are among the doctors urging people to roll up their sleeves and have their jab.
People aged 75 and over and those who are immunosuppressed are now able to book their spring booster via the national booking service as part of the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in health service history.
Tens of thousands of people have already taken up the offer in order to protect themselves and their loved ones, including 95-year-old grandad of two, Devraj Jhalam, who was one of the first to get a spring boost last Monday in Slough.
Recent research from the UK Health Security Agency has shown that the NHS booster programme has helped prevent around 197,000 hospitalisations since mid-December.
The NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial, in Coventry in December 2020 and since then has delivered over 119 million jabs since rollout began, including over 32 million booster vaccines.
Dozens of Mosques around the country will be hosting pop-up clinics either inside the mosque or nearby, including East London Mosque, Darus Salam Mosque in Leicester and Assunah Mosque in north London, making it easier than ever to get a life-saving COVID jab.
Meanwhile, a number of NHS vaccination sites are extending their opening hours so that Muslims can receive the jab after they have eaten if they would prefer to do so and make it easier for people to find a convenient slot.
People who are invited can book in online or by calling 119, which is free from mobiles and landlines. Lines are open every day from 8am to 8pm, and 119 can provide support in 200 languages.
Dr Nighat Arif, who regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and ITV This Morning, said: “Having your jab in Ramadan is permissible and it does not break your fast because it is not nutrition.
“So when offered please get your spring booster as this will help increase your protection from the rising covid transmission rates and cut your risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 and being admitted to hospital – I would urge anyone invited for a spring jab to come forward as soon as possible.”
Dr Hussain, a practising Muslim who works at The Project Surgery in East London, said there was no problem with taking up the spring booster during daylight hours.
Dr Farzana Hussain said: “There is absolutely no reason why you should not come forward for your life-saving covid-19 jab if you are eligible and have been invited a spring booster because it does not break your fast.
“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 practising Muslim to get their vaccine when invited in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“Getting your spring booster will help increase your protection from the rising COVID transmission rates and cut your risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 and being admitted to hospital – I would urge anyone invited for a spring jab to come forward as soon as possible”.
This year local NHS teams will also be setting up some mobile vaccine clinics near mosques, which has been found to a more effective way of reaching those eligible.
The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain insists it is okay to have during Ramadan as it is not nutritional. Nor does it contain any animal or foetal products.
Dr Amer Hamed, member of the BIMA Council and COVID Response Group, said: “During the month of Ramadan BIMA encourage Muslims to keep wearing masks, ventilating your houses and Mosques, washing your hands regularly & getting appropriate booster vaccine dose so that you can save more lives than before.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The success of our fantastic vaccination programme has saved countless lives, reduced pressure on the NHS, and built a wall of defence against COVID.
“Getting your Spring booster during Ramadan does not break your fast and is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus.
“A big thank you to Dr Nighat Arif and Dr Farzana Hussain for all their work encouraging people to get their life-saving jab – I urge everyone who is eligible to get your booster as soon as you are contacted by the NHS”.
Full ingredient lists are published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA):
Meanwhile, a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has said the NHS Vaccination Programme met “stretching and unprecedented targets” as it helped save lives and reduce hospital admissions – all while making effective use of public money.