SF Opens Vaccine Site “Prayer Rooms” for Ramadan
San Francisco Opens Prayer Rooms At High Volume Vaccination Sites For Ramadan
Prayer rooms ensure that practicing Muslims do not have to choose between prayer and getting vaccinated during the holy month of Ramadan
SAN FRANCISCO – The Department of Public Health and the Department of Emergency Management announce new prayer rooms at San Francisco’s high-volume COVID-19 vaccination sites during Ramadan. Created in collaboration with District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney and Human Rights Commissioner and Interfaith Council Board Member Hala Hijazi, the initiative helps support equitable vaccine access for Muslims during the month-long religious celebration and beyond.
Ramadan, observed between April 12 and May 12, is considered one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims. In addition to including a safe space for prayer, the SF Market in the Bayview and Moscone Center vaccination sites have a system in place to allow individuals who step aside to pray to keep their place in line as well as a designated area in which they can break their fast with access to drinking water.
Muslims pray five times a day and fast between dawn and sunset during Ramadan. Open to all faiths, the prayer rooms offer privacy from public view, are outfitted with prayer rugs and are large enough to accommodate social distancing.
“San Francisco is well ahead of the national average when it comes to vaccinating our residents and we’re going to continue doing everything we can to make sure that everyone has access to the vaccines in a way that is easy and accessible,” said Mayor Breed. “We want everyone observing Ramadan to still be able to pray while going through the process of getting vaccinated, and I want to thank all of the community members and City staff who have worked to make this possible.”
San Francisco, which is home to approximately 7,000 Muslims, modeled its guidelines and best practices to allow Muslims to access vaccines during Ramadan from a program of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The initiative’s literature, which suggests offering service during hours when people will not be fasting, is being disseminated at the vaccination sites in English and Arabic.
“Since the beginning of the vaccine roll out, the Department of Public Health has been committed to providing equitable access to vaccines,” says Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health. “Providing prayer rooms ensures that these spaces are welcoming, and we hope their presence helps eliminate barriers to access that may be preventing those in the Muslim community from getting vaccinated. On behalf of the Department of Public Health, I wish all Muslims a blessed Ramadan.”
According to District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin, which is home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the City, “This is a critical effort to improve access to the vaccine for all members of our community during the holy month of Ramadan. Our Muslim residents must have equitable access to the vaccine as well as our support in ensuring they can practice their faith.”