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Doctors say there are no particular side effects of taking the vaccine when is person is fasting Image Credit: For illustrative purposes only

Dubai: UAE doctors have reaasured residents that it is safe to be vaccinated against COVID-19 while they are fasting during the forthcoming holy month of Ramadan.

Dr Palat Menon, head of laboratories at the Fakeeh University Hospital, Dubai, said in general, vaccines were more efficacious when people were fasting.

Ramadan will start from April 13, subject to the moon sighting.

Gulf News spoke to doctors about the impact of taking the vaccine while fasting after Shaikh Dr Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Grand Mufti and Head of the Fatwa Department at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, issued a fatwa last week that taking the COVID-19 vaccine will not break a Muslim’s fast during Ramadan.

“The vaccine does not break any fast because it is taken intramuscularly, so it is permissible for the fasting person to take the jab,” said Al Haddad. A fasting person is not allowed to take food, water or medicine through the open passages such as the mouth, the nose, etc, or through intravenously.

Excellent immune response

Dr Menon said: “I would advise people to take the vaccination for COVID-19 while they are fasting. First, they must not miss the opportunity to be vaccinated for fear of some side effects. Second, the immune response is said to be twice as effective when people are fasting.”

Dr Palat Menon

“It is a known fact that when people are on a 12-hour fast, whether for religious or medical purposes, the macrophages in the immune system work quicker, clearing out all debris or diseased or dead cells and toxins as well. This process is called autophagy and during this period, the immune system becomes very sensitive and effective," he said.

He said: "Intermittent fasting is known to be effective in diabetes, Tuberculosis and management of other metabolic disorders. So a vaccination during the period of fasting is perfectly fine.”

Choose a time closer to iftar

Dr Gunjan Mahajan, specialist clinical pathologist at the Medeor Hospital Laboratory, seconded Dr Menon’s views, “The priority is to take the vaccine, both the first and second dose and people need not change their appointment because of the fasting hours. In the majority of cases, the only side effect that the vaccine manifests is a sore arm, some dizziness or headache and that too kicks in a day after the vaccination. I advise people to go ahead and take the vaccination."

Dr Gunjan Mahajan

She said, "Our bodies are perfectly strong to deal with an inactivated virus even when we are fasting. In fact, the body is in a state of rest when we are fasting and does not have to deal with anabolic, catabolic or metabolic chores and the immune system is highly effective when we are fasting.”

For those who fear any side-effects, Dr Mahajan advised taking the vaccination closer to the Iftar time when they can end the fast. “If possible, people who are afraid of suffering side effects can choose a couple of hours before iftar to get the jab, proceed to rest and later regain energy when they end the fast for the day. Everyone is different; some people may prefer to get the vaccination in the morning soon after Suhoor, others closer to iftar. You can fix the appointment according to your convenience. Medically speaking, there is no contraindication to getting vaccinated while you are fasting,” she concluded.