SAN FRANCISCO—On April 26, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and the Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM) revealed in a news release that prayer rooms will be offered at “high-volume” vaccination sites for residents.

This was “created in collaboration” with Matt Haney, member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and Hala Hijazi, member of the Interfaith Council Board and Human Rights Commissioner.

The prayer rooms are “open to all faiths” and vaccination sites at the Moscone Center and the SF Market in the Bayview will “allow individuals who step aside to pray to keep their place in line,” states the news release.  It offers “privacy from public view, are outfitted with prayer rugs” and accommodates social distancing. There will also be a “designated area” for Muslims to break their fast with “access to drinking water.”

The announcement comes in the middle of Ramadan, the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.  During this month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual activities from dawn to sunset.  Fasting during Ramadan and praying five times a day are two of the five pillars of Islam.

The SFPDH said in an April 26 tweet:

“Practicing Muslims should not have to choose between prayer and getting vaccinated during Ramadan.  Today, in partnership with @SF_emergency, D6 Sup @MattHaneySF & @hkhijazi we have opened new prayer/reflection rooms for all at SF’s high-volume COVID tax sites. #Ramadan #Vaccinate SF.”

Supervisor Haney tweeted on April 26 that offering prayer rooms is a “critical effort to improve access to the vaccine for all members of our community during the holy month of Ramadan” and said “Muslim residents must have equitable access to the vaccine as well as our support in ensuring they can practice their faith.”

Supervisor Haney represents the Tenderloin District, “home to the largest concentration of Muslims” in SF. More than 7,000 Muslims live in San Francisco.

SF “modeled” the New York City Commission on Human Rights’ “guidelines and best practices to allow Muslims to access vaccines during Ramadan,” states the news release.

Some of the guidelines includes creating a “space where people can pray,” offering “service during hours when people will not be fasting (before dawn or after sunset),” and providing “visible signage in multiple language directing people to restrooms where they can wash themselves in preparation for prayer.”

Ramadan ends on May 12, 2021. According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, the state of California administered more than 28 million coronavirus vaccines and has the lowest positivity rate in the nation.