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Minnesota and Muslim leaders hope to vaccinate followers of Islam ahead of religious holiday

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Vaccine clinic at a Minnesota mosque

(KTTC) -- Before Ramadan begins next week, the state plans to complete 18 vaccination clinics at mosques across Minnesota.

Thursday, more than 500 doses went out at a North Broadway mosque and Muslim leaders hope even more will follow statewide.

"That's one of the examples that we've been working on," said Graham Briggs, Olmsted County Public Health director. "Trying to get out in the community, provide vaccine and make it easy for people to access."

"We also did some work at IMAA including getting folks vaccinated in time for Ramadan," said Dr. Melanie Swift, Mayo Clinic COVID-19 vaccine co-chair.

Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon, expected to be Tuesday, April 13th. It still leaves time for some to get vaccinated, and Minnesota mosques are holding vaccine clinics to help.

"Taking the COVID vaccine is permissible. It's also agreed that taking the COVID-19 vaccine does not break fast because it's not considered food or drink," said Imam Hassan Jama, executive director of the Islamic Association of North America.

Fasting during Ramadan can average between 10 to 20 hours and means abstaining from food and drink. However, getting a vaccine into your arm and the resulting side effects is an exception.

"Some people may have side effects after vaccination such as fever or headache," Jama said. "It's okay if you need to take medicine, drink or eat. It's important to take care of yourself."

Not just for Ramadan, Muslim leaders in the state hope the mosque clinics combat vaccine inequity and hesitancy.

"Right now, we have 2,300 people with shots in their arms. They are out there talking to their friends and relatives. That's more than any sermon, carries more weight," said Imam Asad Zaman, Muslim-American Society of Minnesota executive director.

Muslim leaders do not want the religious holiday to spread COVID-19. Mosques will be encouraging people to follow health guidelines specific to the holiday. It includes limiting the number inside mosques, spacing people out while praying and limiting prayer time, which can last up to two hours.

Alex Tejada

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