Published: 13:35, 09 April 2021
| Updated: 17:06, 10 April 2021
Muslim faith leaders are stressing upcoming Ramadan should not prevent anyone from getting the Covid vaccine.
Mohamed Ali, chairman of Canterbury Mosque and consultant anaesthetist at the city's hospital, has explained having medical injections does not break the day's fast.
The 50-year-old said: "Having the vaccine is allowed even when someone is fasting during the day.
"Having the vaccine not only saves the person's life but prevents the spread of the virus.
"In Islam if someone is ill, travelling long distances or has a chronic disease that will affect their health if fasting, then they are obliged not to fast.
"So taking the vaccine is permissible and encouraged, even during Ramadan."
As chairman of the mosque, Mohamed has been encouraging all who are being asked to take the vaccine to do so without delay.
Some NHS vaccination sites across England are extending opening hours so Muslims can receive the jab after they have eaten and make it easier for people to find a convenient slot.
The British Islamic Medical Association, an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain, has issued specific advice, recommending the vaccine and insisting it is okay to have during Ramadan as it is not nutritional, nor does it contain any animal or foetal products.
Safeer Khan, Imam of Nasir Mosque, Gillingham, said: "To fast you have to be healthy, the vaccine is making sure of that.
"If you do feel the vaccination will break your fast, Islam will allow you to do that as the Covid-19 vaccine is for the greater good.
"If you cannot fast that day you can skip it and begin fasting on another day after Ramadan."
Last month the NHS revealed its blueprint to tackle vaccine hesitancy, spearheaded by director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani, which detailed efforts on encouraging uptake among ethnic minorities.
This includes engaging with community and faith leaders, translating materials into 20 languages and reaching communities with pop-up clinics and in places of worship.
Mohamed added: "Keeping life and saving lives is one of the most rewarding acts in Islam.
"We had some of our congregation and a few refugee families who live in south Kent asking questions about the pandemic, especially the vaccine.
"This happened at the beginning of the vaccination process as there was some confusion about the different types of vaccines and what things had been shared on social media.
"Myself and my wife, who is also a doctor who helped in vaccination stations in Canterbury, were part of two online video conferences to explain facts and debunk any false news.
"The feedback was very positive and we made sure to answer all of their questions, in the end more people were accepting to take the vaccine when they were requested to do so."
Mohamed and Safeer have also assured their congregations the vaccine does not contain any animal products and is completely halal (permissible) in Islamic view.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and national medical director for primary care said: “The largest vaccination programme in NHS history has been a huge success since its inception but we must continue to challenge misinformation and advocate the vaccine as being entirely appropriate to have during Ramadan.
"Keeping life and saving lives is one of the most rewarding acts in Islam."
“It is vital that people of all faiths feel able to come forward and get the vaccine.”
Almost 27 million people have been vaccinated since the launch of the largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS last December.