NYC Muslims Made Plans For COVID-19 Vaccinations During Ramadan—Then Came The J&J Pause


A sudden federal halt to the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has dampened hopes amongst NYC Muslim leaders who have been planning for a considerable vaccination push throughout Ramadan.

Common eligibility for the vaccines arrived not lengthy earlier than Muslim New Yorkers welcomed Ramadan on April twelfth. Non secular leaders and the town had debuted pop-up vaccination websites at three mosques, ICNA Markaz and Jamaica Muslim Middle in Queens and Al-Masjidu Adam within the Bronx. Every mosque had its personal guidelines on securing a vaccine—from merely strolling in to filling out google varieties.

Mayor Invoice de Blasio visited Al-Masjidu Adam days earlier than Ramadan to talk with Black Muslim Leaders on the town’s program, and metropolis officers had hoped to broaden this system to all 5 boroughs.

“We’ll be working with all faiths, all homes of worship, as a result of we discovered this has been actually efficient solution to get extra folks to return in and be vaccinated in a setting that they belief and really feel comfy in,” the mayor stated on April twelfth. “So, excellent news for the Muslim group.”

A day later, federal regulators beneficial a pause on all Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine photographs, interrupting lots of the metropolis’s efforts to achieve its sprawling Islamic group. Greater than 760,000 Muslims stay within the 5 boroughs, an extremely numerous group composed of U.S.-born members and immigrants from greater than 75 international locations that accounts for nearly 9 % of the town’s inhabitants. Because of the J&J pause, the pop-up websites on the mosques canceled all appointments and dates after April 13.

This setback got here as COVID case charges have been plateauing and hospitalizations have been low, leading to extra mosques reopening in time for the holy month-long vacation. Vaccination efforts via group mosques can be handy and useful for the group, in line with Lamiya Khandaker, the challenge supervisor on the Islamic Management Council of New York (ILCNY), an umbrella group that represents 90 mosques and Islamic organizations.

“Doing outreach to mosques proper now and providing language companies and providing accessible appointments instantly via the mosque can be probably the most excellent factor to do particularly throughout Ramadan, as a result of the Muslim group, they go to the mosque, they go to choose up their meal, or they go to hope taraweeh and isha,” she stated.

Family and friends additionally rank increased than well being care suppliers with regards to probably the most trusted conduits of vaccine information, in line with nationwide surveys performed by the Kaiser Household Basis. This development applies to each pro-vaccine messages and misinformation, which means Ramadan provides a possibility to advertise inoculation whereas additionally addressing issues over the photographs.

New York Metropolis’s Islamic group noticed hesitancy when the COVID-19 vaccines first got here out and there was a number of misinformation and confusion, in line with Farah Salam, the group well being and wellbeing coordinator on the Arab American Household Assist Middle (AAFSC). Her group offers social companies to many within the Muslim group.

In the course of the holy month, Muslims abstain from meals, water, and different substances in the course of the day—elevating a query about whether or not vaccinations are acceptable throughout fasting hours. Numerous Islamic students worldwide in the end agreed the photographs are permissible throughout Ramadan as a result of the injection goes into the muscle and never the abdomen.

One other concern has centered round being bodily capable of deal with the gentle side-effects brought on by the COVID-19 vaccine whereas additionally coping with the stress of fasting. Muslim New Yorker Wacef Chowdhury didn’t hesitate after an additional dose at an area pharmacy within the Bronx was provided to him days earlier than Ramadan. However ideally, he would’ve favored an in a single day appointment or one towards the top of Ramadan so his second dose wouldn’t fall within the center, impacting his quick.

Men pray at Masjid Al-Farooq


Males pray at Masjid Al-Farooq for the Muslim vacation of Eid al-Fitr in Brooklyn, June fifteenth, 2018.

Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

“I’ve heard signs may be demanding, virtually extreme,” Chowdhury stated. “If it will get to some extent the place fasting is not potential or would harm my well being, I most likely will keep away from the quick.”

Salam says a couple of group members have informed her they’re ready as a result of comparable worries. “It’s not the vaccine itself, however they don’t need to expertise the unwanted effects of the vaccine whereas they’re fasting,” or to interrupt their observance due to it, she stated. Different group members are strategically scheduling their appointments nearer to sundown as a precaution in case they should take ache killers or towards the top of Ramadan, so their second dose falls after it ends.

Questions like “What’s within the vaccine?” or “Why was it made so rapidly?” additionally circulated throughout the Arab and Bangladeshi teams Salam works with, however she stated after these hesitations have been addressed, many group members needed fast entry to the vaccine. A majority of Muslims are actually “very accepting of vaccinations as a result of we’re a faith of science,” Khandaker agreed.

“We get info from the town, we move it all the way down to companion organizations and member mosques, after which it will get distributed,” stated Khandaker. By way of its partnership with the town authorities, ILCNY has been the go-to supply for mosques and Islamic facilities on virus and vaccine information. They’ve created assets and movies on vaccines throughout Ramadan, in-person prayer tips, and extra.

AAFSC has extra of a grassroots method in educating the group via language-sensitive webinars, direct contact with these with questions and securing appointments for group members.

The group beforehand partnered with the town and obtained assets for the census outreach, however in line with Kerry Sesil, AAFSC senior director of useful resource improvement, “there may be not fairly that momentum” for COVID-19 vaccine schooling and outreach. “Group-based organizations just like the AAFSC are so vital as trusted assets to get this info out in a language that individuals perceive,” she stated.

Town’s Fee on Human Rights has additionally launched steerage for vaccination websites that can be serving fasting Muslims this month. Its solutions embody a chosen prayer area, signage in numerous languages to restrooms, a chosen area for Muslims to interrupt their quick, and a method for folks to maintain their spot in line throughout prayer time. One lodging, nevertheless, has pushed a lot of the dialog in metropolis council: providing appointments earlier than darkish or after sundown.

Councilmember Mark Levine, the chair of the town’s council well being committee, has been publicly calling for an enlargement in in a single day appointments for Muslims alongside Councilmember Daneek Miller. Presently, three vaccination websites within the metropolis supply in a single day appointments for each doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines: at Bathgate, CitiField, and Brooklyn Military Terminal. Three others are solely administering second photographs.

Whereas AAFSC isn’t a direct companion on vaccine outreach, the town gave them backend entry to the Division of Well being portal, which means they obtain a sure variety of appointments put aside for his or her group. Salam famous that the quantity has been low however bettering, starting from 15-40 per week. As of April sixteenth, AAFSC had secured 140 appointments because the center of March.

Town is listening, stated Salam, “however there are some issues we might respect as community-based organizations to get these vaccine appointments for our purchasers.”