There is “no reason” why Ramadan should stop anyone from coming forward to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, according to leading doctors and Muslims in the Black Country and West Birmingham.

Medical leaders and the majority of Islamic scholars have united to address misinformation that suggests that receiving the vaccine will in any way break the Muslim practice of fasting during Ramadan.

Some vaccination sites across the Midlands have extended their opening hours to encourage uptake, with others welcoming recipients to ‘twilight’ vaccination sessions, pop-up clinics and special drop-in clinics where no appointment is needed to receive a vaccine.

Other sites are offering more flexible booking slots and Imams are promoting participation at Friday sermons to encourage vaccine take-up during the Islamic ‘Holy Month’ of Ramadan, which is expected to begin on Monday 12 April.

Now a host of NHS leaders – including many who are Muslims – are speaking out to encourage Muslim communities to continue to come forward to receive their vaccine during Ramadan.

Dr Masood Ahmed, Chief Medical Officer for the BCWB CCG, said: “Receiving your COVID-19 vaccination during Ramadan does not break the fast as it’s not nutrition – so there is no religious reason why Muslims should not come forward to receive theirs during Ramadan, as long as they are eligible, have been invited for their first dose or are scheduled to receive their second jab over the coming weeks.

“The Quran says that whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity.

“And we could not be clearer that the COVID-19 vaccine could help save your life and those of the people closest to you – so it is absolutely vital that my fellow Muslims don’t delay receiving their vaccines when they are called.”

The British Islamic Medical Association, an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain, has issued specific advice that recommends the vaccine.

The guidance also makes clear it is acceptable to receive the vaccine during Ramadan as it is not nutritional, nor does it contain any animal or foetal products. Full ingredient lists are published by the MHRA.

Dr Ahmed continued: “Numerous studies have proven that the vaccine is safe and effective with minimal side effects and there is a growing body of evidence from medical and faith leaders that supports Muslims receiving the vaccine – including during Ramadan.”

More than six million doses of the vaccine have now been delivered across the Midlands since the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS began in the Midlands last December.

In the West Midlands alone, more than 2.8million people have already received a first dose of the vaccine while over 460,000 second doses have also been delivered.

Alison Tonge, the NHS England and NHS Improvement director responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme across the Midlands, said: “Over five million people in the Midlands have already come forward to receive at least their first dose of the vaccine, as the NHS continues to roll out the largest vaccination programme in its history.

“And while the vast majority of those eligible have already come forward, NHS organisations across the region are working hard to ensure that no-one is left behind – regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs.

“A key part of that work is to show that this vaccine is one that all our communities can have confidence in, as we continue to ensure that all our communities come forward to receive their vaccine – including during Ramadan.”

The efforts to encourage Muslim residents to come forward to receive their vaccine builds on highly successful national NHS campaigns that are already underway to encourage people from all backgrounds to receive their vaccine.

That campaign has already been supported by the BBC’s Adil Ray and Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain.

For the latest information about how to book your vaccine, visit blackcountrywestbirminghamcovidvaccine.co.uk