UK mosques encouraged to host pop-up vaccine centres during Ramadan

Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi suggests inoculations could take place after evening prayers

Muslims in the UK could be offered coronavirus vaccines after evening prayers during Ramadan.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi on Wednesday praised mosques for signing up for pop-up vaccination clinics to coincide with iftar – the evening meal after the daily Ramadan fast ends at sunset.

More than 22.8 million people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, according to government statistics.

But ministers said the continued success of the programme relies on strong take-up of the vaccine, particularly among minority ethnic groups who, studies show, are more likely to be hesitant.

Some mosques have already been converted to vaccine centres to encourage take-up among Muslims.

But Mr Zahawi told MPs some mosques were planning to go further by offering the vaccine to Muslims immediately after iftar during Ramadan, which begins on April 12.

“It goes back to convenience, access and support. It’s a place that the community trusts,” he told the Woman and Equalities Committee.

“And thinking it through, if people are coming for iftar to the mosque, what a great way to book them in afterwards to have their jab.”

He said 94 per cent of Britain’s adult population said they were likely or very likely to take the vaccine.

“It’s the highest in the world if I’m not mistaken in terms of vaccine positivity,” he said.

However, he said the take-up rate was lower among the black and Afro-Caribbean and Bangladeshi communities.

He said that anti-vaccination misinformation was “false but proving quite potent” among women.

“Some of the focus groups and polling numbers suggest much of the hesitancy is around issues of fertility,” he said.

Medical and religion experts said the Covid-19 vaccine is permissible in Islam and does not invalidate fasting.

Dr Salman Waqar, a board member at the British Islamic Medical Association, said Islamic opinion on the matter was fairly unambiguous.

"Muslim scholars around the world, not only in Europe and the UK, said that the Covid vaccines are religiously permissible and that taking a vaccine during Ramadan will not invalidate your fast.”

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