Ramadan and vaccines — what Muslims in Southern California need to know
Muslims in Southern California and around the world are beginning their faith’s holiest month of the year, Ramadan. And with it comes fasting, abstaining from all food and drink during daylight hours.
Typically, the fast also includes oral and intravenous medications. But what about vaccines?
Fasting and vaccines
According to Omar Ricci, spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Southern California, a majority of Islamic scholars agree that getting vaccinated does not constitute breaking your fast and it is permissible to receive a vaccine in the daytime during Ramadan.
“Preservation of life is paramount in the faith, and therefore, getting the vaccine is acceptable,” Ricci said. “It’s not providing you with any form of nutrition, it’s not remedying a sort of an immediate malady or sickness or whatever, and it’s doing something to help preserve your life. So the majority of scholars that I’ve read have said ... you can go ahead and get the vaccine.”
Mild side effects have been recorded following vaccinations including fatigue, slight fever and localized pain at the injection site. So some vaccination clinics offer patients water and a snack.
Ricci maintained that the decision to fast or not is up to the individual and that you should make the best decision for yourself.
“If you can hold out until sunset, great, if you can’t, that’s every individual’s judgment call. There is no sin associated with breaking your fast if you feel you really need to, that’s between you and God about how you feel,” Ricci said. “Again, if you’re feeling bad after the vaccine, that will have to be your own individual judgment call with the understanding that if you just can’t hold out, no big deal: break fast, make it up. You know, as plenty of people do outside of Ramadan, you can have a makeup day.”
Now that eligibility is expanding to all California adults, we’ve put together a list of the different ways you can try to make an appointment to get a COVID vaccine in Los Angeles County.
Are vaccines halal?
Dr. Nabile Safdar, president of the Islamic Medical Assn. of North America, emphasized in a video in January that if you get the opportunity, you should get vaccinated.
“So here’s the bottom line: Vaccines save lives,” Safdar said in the video statement. “The benefits of these vaccines far outweigh the potential risks. Overwhelmingly, these are safe. The vaccines available in the United States are halal; they have no objectionable ingredients.”
A study done by Muslim Med suggests that the AstraZeneca (not yet available in the U.S.) and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines contain ingredients that may pose ethical issues but are permissible. The medical association maintains that all the vaccines are halal, but the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pzifer) are preferable.
Ricci said that halal adherence is ultimately up to an individual, keeping in mind that the Islamic faith’s “higher order thinking is to preserve life.”
“If there’s a choice between getting a vaccine that may have questionable ingredients, and the risk of getting a deadly disease, you go with getting the vaccine so you prevent the deadly disease,” Ricci said.
We traveled around the L.A. region to ask people whether or not they would take the vaccine, and if not, why. Then we posed their questions to two experts. Here’s what they said.
Where and how to get a vaccine
According to IMANA, when you are eligible, you can get vaccinated anywhere there are appointments available.
Ricci said that there are “no hard and fast rules” when it comes to medical procedures and Islamic guidelines.
“There’s transitive logic about why a Muslim man shouldn’t have a female doctor and why a female Muslim shouldn’t have a male doctor administer the shot ... but there’s nothing explicit that says that it can’t happen for this medical type procedure,” Ricci said.
To find where and how to get an appointment in Southern California, check out our guides.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.