Checking Email on Shabbat to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine


New York, NY

Shabbat and getting vaccine question:

A person who works in a healthcare setting and thus has high vaccine status and is at somewhat heightened risk themselves, will get an email at some point telling them that the vaccine is available and to sign up immediately, first come first serve, before it runs out. They have already missed one such opportunity because the last email happened to come on Shabbat.

  1. Can they check their phone on Shabbat, for such emails, which may or may not actually come on Shabbat?
  2. If signing up means traveling immediately on Shabbat to get it, may they?
  3. May they sign up for a first vaccine which will, by scheduling procedure, require them to take a second vaccine on Shabbat?


This is a hard call in terms of considering it real pikuach nefesh to override issurei de’orayta, both because of the question of degree of risk, but also because it is about avoiding risk, rather than being in a case of sakanah now. Also, in principle they can always decide to not go in to work. I will work with the assumption that it is not in that category, but can definitely override issurei derabanan.

As such, it is fine to keep the phone on. It is better if they can set an alarm for an email from a certain sender. See here. Alternatively, they can leave their computer on, without a screen saver, and with the email app open.

As to going in, they can call a cab and have the cab driver open and close the door.

They shouldn’t sign anything at the hospital in pen. They may sign electronically. If there is no choice but to sign in pen, they should sign with their weak hand.

Yes, they can sign up even if the second one has to be on Shabbat, if they follow the same guidelines as above.

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