Muslim parents across England are refusing to allow their children to take part in a nationwide flu vaccine drive after the Muslim Council of Britain ruled the treatment was forbidden by Islam.
From August, Public Health England is offering every primary school child in the country a nasal spray vaccine called Fluenz, to protect individuals of all ages against the virus. However, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the largest umbrella group of mosques and Muslim associations in the UK, had ruled Fluenz forbidden as it is made with gelatine derived from pigs, an animal considered unclean in Islam.
A statement was released by the Muslim Council of Britain on Monday which said that a range of Islamic scholars are of the view that “vaccines containing porcine are not permitted in Islam unless lives are at risk and there are no alternatives.”
It is vitally important to vaccine the kids aged between two to ten because they are so-called ‘super-spreaders’ who pass on the disease to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. Last year, winter deaths from the virus hit a 42-year high.
The MCB goes on to suggest Public Health England could offer injectable vaccines, similar to alternatives provided by Scottish health authorities, which contain ingredients in accordance with Islam.
Additionally, the council insists more clarity is needed from British health officials “so that parents can make informed choices.”
NHS England has urged Muslim parents to consider making an exception because the vaccine can be “considered different from ingesting food”.
Since 2013 the nasal spray vaccine has been gradually introduced to healthy children, beginning with youngsters in nursery school. An injectable alternative without gelatine does exist, but is only offered to children at higher risk.
The vaccine has already got the green light from Jewish leaders as the pork gelatine is not eaten.