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Canadian experts push against vaccine hesitancy amid upcoming Ramadan

Last Updated Apr 10, 2021 at 2:20 pm EDT

FILE: Doctor Anil Mehta administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to a homeless person at the Welcome Centre in Ilford, east London, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

This coming week, Muslims are set to start fasting for the holy month of Ramadan

Some people participating in the annual fast are factoring in the choice to get vaccinated

Experts say getting a COVID-19 vaccine does not break the fast

TORONTO (NEWS 1130) — Muslims across the world and Canada are set to begin the annual fast for the holy month of Ramadan this coming week; however, there is hesitation about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ramadan starts Tuesday evening and lasts until May 12, which is also lining up with the timeline some Canadian communities are ramping up vaccine efforts for residents living in some of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods.

Ahmed Hussein, the CEO of The Neighbourhood Organization in Toronto, says this year it’s been tough for some Muslims who are wondering how their fast will impact COVID-19 vaccinations.

“It is tough because Ramadan is a time of sharing, a time of being in reflection, meeting with people, in helping people who are in need…” Hussein explains.

Millions of Muslims worldwide will be fasting from sunrise to sunset, without eating or drinking.

The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force released evidence-based guidelines Friday at a critical moment to reach vulnerable populations.

“Over 80 per cent of COVID cases that we’ve seen in Canada have been in racialized and ethnic communities,” Dr. Aisha Khatib, a family physician and COVID-19 assessor at the Unity Health Network, tells 680 NEWS. “A huge proportion of those racialized ethnic communities are Muslim.”

RELATED: Advocates call on public health officials to address COVID-19 vaccine concerns in BIPOC communities

The nonpartisan group worked with governments and experts to answer some concerns like, does getting a COVID-19 vaccine break my fast? The answer is no.

If you’re feeling well, the group adds there are no medical or religious reasons to delay your vaccine appointment while fasting.

“We are in a state of a public health emergency, and it’s so important to get those vaccines on board to protect yourselves and to protect our community,” Dr. Khatib says.

Community groups with The Neighbourhood Organization are speaking directly to residents who are a part of a racialized group or are living in hard-hit communities in Toronto.

“I thought people were hesitant in the beginning but I think the more people realize this disease is deadly and now the younger people are getting sicker and sicker, people are realizing [they need to get their vaccination]. I think it has improved significantly,” Hussein says.

Dr. Khatib adds that for anyone who is looking to fast and get the vaccine during this month to make sure that you are well hydrated.