Muslim Community And Health Center In Milwaukee Encourages COVID-19 Vaccinations During Ramadan
On a Friday afternoon at the Muslim Community and Health Center of Wisconsin (MCHC), the mood is light as patients come into the clinic to get their COVID-19 vaccine. As Muslims continue to observe the holy month of Ramadan, leaders in Milwaukee’s Muslim community have been encouraging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Arman Tahir is the director of operations for the MCHC. He says before Ramadan began, some members of the Muslim community had questions about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. During Ramadan vaccines are usually deferred until after the holy month is over, but because the two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine need to be given during a specific time frame, Tahir says it's important that everyone continue to get the vaccine.
“We actually asked these scholars of our religion, the imams of our religion, some of these questions which came from our community,” says Tahir. “We were told by our scholars, who actually we were very lucky that they also came to MCHC for their vaccines, that it is completely permissible to take the vaccine and [patients] can come in the month of Ramadan and get the vaccine without any problem. It will not break their fast.”
At the MCHC, patients are offered the Moderna vaccine. Tahir says that according to Milwaukee’s Islamic scholars, the reason it won’t break a Muslim’s fast is because the vaccine does not go into a patient’s bloodstream.
If a Muslim person were to experience side effects of the vaccine, there are accommodations that can be made for them during the month of Ramadan.
“If for some reason they have to be given an I.V. or some medication or have to be transferred to the hospital, that is completely understandable,” says Tahir. “If there is anything given to the patient, which was required because of his or her health concerns, they can make up the fast after the month is over.”
Tahir estimates that about 50% of patients who come to the clinic are are members of the Muslim community. To make patients feel more comfortable, he says staff members took their vaccines first to lead by example and that they’re happy to answer any questions patients may have. So far, it’s been working.
Sadek Ahmad of Milwaukee received his vaccine at the clinic, and identifies as Muslim. He says that at first, he was concerned about possible side effects of the vaccine. After talking to his doctor, Admad felt more confident about getting one and hopes members of the community will get one too.
“If this message supplies around in Milwaukee and in the Muslim community, I hope people will agree to take more of this vaccine in the future, potentially,” says Ahmad.
Tahir says having the COVID-19 vaccine at the Muslim Community and Health Center has made members of the Muslim Community feel more comfortable. Many come back excited for their second dose and have appreciated having the community service.
“The opportunity to come in and get it on days when they can, having people who speak their language, the culture, the ethnic backgrounds of several different patients who come here has been a very advantageous thing,” he says. “They like where there's a kind of a family atmosphere, easy to park, come in. We provide them with snacks and answer all the questions. It's a very lively team. So they've been extremely happy coming in.”
The Muslim Community and Health Center has COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Friday and Saturday. Patients can get their vaccine on a walk-in basis.