Doctors in the UAE have reassured anyone fasting this Ramadan that it is safe to continue with their planned Covid-19 vaccinations.
The holy month is just days away, but as the UAE continues at full pace with its nationwide vaccination drive, some people are unsure if they should proceed with appointments to take their first or second dose.
Medics are offering timely pointers to encourage those fasting to stay as healthy as possible.
“As we know, in Ramadan, Muslims go fasting for food and water for about 14 hours and, in Islam, if a person is sick, they are allowed to break the fast,” said Dr Hesham Gad, a specialist of internal medicine at International Modern Hospital, Dubai.
“Due to Covid-19, we need to take more fluids.
“So, if a person is going to take a vaccine during Ramadan, they are advised to break a fast and take in more fluids. They are also advised to take proper rest and healthy food.”
Ramadan can be a difficult time for hospitals and clinics across the country.
The most common admissions are of people with chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, asthma and epilepsy.
Added to the continued management of coronavirus infections, hospital staff are bracing themselves for a busy month ahead.
Many private hospitals are likely to extend the availability of specialists to deal with the increased demand for treatment outside of regular hours.
It is not uncommon for patients who are managing existing conditions to fall ill after breaking their fast at sunset, with admission usually related to medication.
“As the holy month of Ramadan starts in a few days, the medical community is encountering several concerns from patients about receiving Covid-19 vaccines,” said Dr Azeem Abdul Salam Mohamad at Bareen International Hospital in Mohamed bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi.
“Taking the vaccine during fasting hours will not invalidate your fast as the vaccine does not pass through any opening of your body as it is injected into the muscle.
“The vaccine has no nutritional value and is not a food or drink that satisfies hunger.
“The content of vaccine is halal and does not contain pork, animal products or alcohol.”
Dr Mohamad said if a person experiences side effects from a vaccine and needs to take medicine or break the fast, it is permissible, and can be compensated for by fasting on another day.
“Fasting can boost the immune system, so it is absolutely safe to receive the vaccine during fasting hours,” he said.
Ramadan is due to begin on April 12, depending on the first sighting of the moon in line with the Islamic calendar.
Dubai extended its vaccination programme in March, calling on all residents over 40 to register to receive a dose of either the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Sinopharm vaccines.
On April 5, 17,743 doses were administered taking the total number of vaccines administered in the UAE to 8,596,722, consolidating one of the fastest immunisation campaigns in the world.
Dr Tarek Ibrahim, head of the emergency medicine department at NMC Specialty Hospital in Al Ain, advised people to continue with any vaccine appointments they had during Ramadan.
“A vaccine is the most effective way to curb the spread of this virus and ensure protection to ourselves, our family and those who are at high risk from Covid-19,” he said.
“It is highly advised that people do not postpone or delay their Covid-19 vaccination plan.
“However, people with chronic conditions should consult a physician prior to taking the jab.
“In addition, those with increased risk of contracting Covid-19 should consider alternative options to fasting.”