By Imam Dr. Mikal Ramadan
(Muslim Journal Vol. 46, No. 16, January 1, 2021)
A: Yes, I will and also Recommend Vaccine to My Family.
I must admit this was not an easy decision for me, despite being a doctor and public health professional.
I am one who has been deeply touched by the “ghosts of slavery’s past” with the medical experimentation and exploitation of our enslaved people and how that history still bleeds into the current health disparities faced by our community to this very day.
I am further sensitized to the potential for misconduct in the development and roll out of these important life-saving vaccines, particularly in today’s adverse political climate.
But Allah (swt) cautions us in His Holy Qur’an (Al Ma’ida, Surah 8): “… and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice.”
To this end, it has been my intent and that of the Muslim Health Consortium to insure that the interests and welfare of all people (particularly people of color) are kept foremost in the development and administration of these vaccines.
This is accomplished by independently reviewing the research data and keeping the light shown on these processes. We believe this will ultimately serve to improve the health outcomes in the most underserved communities, Insha Allah.
We get asked many questions on the vaccines that were just approved for emergency use and are being rolled out now. Listed below are examples of the types of questions we receive.
Many of the questions have to do with our fears. Some of them have come from my family members, our conferences, and some from social media.
MOST FREQUENTLY VOICED CONCERNS:
1. I don’t trust the Trump administration, and I am afraid to take the vaccine.
2. I will take the vaccine when I see Dr. Fauci, Joe Biden, and other government leaders take the vaccine.
3. They are trying to give us COVID.
4. This Vaccine was made too fast.
5. They still want to experiment on us.
6. The vaccine will change our DNA and make us genetically a modified people (GMO).
7. They will switch the vaccine when the Black community is to be vaccinated.
8. We are a different people genetically, and the vaccine might be formulated to be less effective on us.
9. I believe that COVID was man-made.
10. I have never trusted vaccines ever since the CDC found an ingredient in some vaccines that was harmful to black people.
11. I believe that vaccines cause autism.
12. I want to know what happens long term after taking the vaccine.
13. The government needs to address the bad faith that still exists between it and the black community.
14. Can you still spread the virus after you have had the vaccine?
15. What is long haul COVID and what is its impact?
The coronavirus vaccines are a tremendous scientific achievement for all of mankind. The basic scientific research began decades ago and culminated at this time in the midst of a raging worldwide pandemic. This, I believe, was a blessing from Allah (swt).
Hospitals are now in some places in disaster mode. They are being overrun with COVID patients and African Americans are dying 2-3 times faster than Whites.
The coronavirus attacks multiple body systems – the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, vascular and neurological systems.
Furthermore, it attacks multiple systems in our society – the economic, political, social, communication and educational. And it attacks the systems of our minds and spirits – our compassion, fears, love, altruism, hatred, and our belief in the Unseen.
The coronavirus presents not only a scientific research challenge to develop vaccines, but a continuing clinical challenge to management COVID patients, and a logistical challenge to distribute the vaccine, along with a psychospiritual challenge: Can we lay aside our differences and change our behavior for the benefit of the whole society, our fellow man?
We can literally watch people die, or we can let go of our fears, make the leap and grab the rope that can pull us out of this danger.
I salute the heads of the historical Black medical colleges – Meharry, Howard, Morehouse, and Charles Drew – who themselves volunteered for the vaccine clinical trials and encouraged other African Americans to do likewise.
They were familiar with the history of medical experimentation and exploitation of African Americans in this country.
But they also knew how important it was to be represented in those clinical trials to demonstrate how effective the vaccine was on us and if there were any special side-effects that may occur with us from the vaccine.
It was important to demonstrate that the vaccines are safe and effective and their benefits outweighed their risks.
These vaccines are indeed a human achievement that we too can celebrate. This time reminds me of the poignant moment when Imam W D Mohammed picked up the American flag and carried it across the stage years ago in the Mosque on Stony Island Avenue in Chicago.
In that instant, our minds were freed of our ambivalence regarding America. That moment said to us that this flag and country are ours, that we are stakeholders. We can claim it with all of the rights thereof. And as with all things, we trust in Allah (swt) and remain vigilant.
We intend to answer more specific questions in future articles, Insha Allah. May Allah guide us, bless us and keep us safe. Ameen.
Biosketch: Imam Dr. Mikal Ramadan has been a Muslim since 1962, when his family joined the Nation of Islam under the Hon. Elijah Muhammad. He was raised in the Muslim community. He has served as the past Resident Imam of Masjid Al-Taqwa in Chicago, Illinois, as a student of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed.
He is an Emergency Physician and has practiced in Chicago and Northwest Indiana for over 40 years. He retired from active practice over six months ago.
He has been married to his wife, Agnes, for over 50 years. They have four children, 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He enjoys teaching and distance swimming. Dr. Ramadan is also a member of the Muslim Health Consortium; email firstname.lastname@example.org (See PSA on page 20.)