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GPs warned to be careful when giving flu vaccine to Muslim patients

GPs will be advised to take care when immunising Muslim patients with a pork-derived influenza vaccine.

NHS England has issued information to CCG clinical leads, to be disseminated to GPs, that some groups within the British Muslim community might consider the Fluenz vaccine forbidden.

The Fluenz vaccine is being offered to two to four-year-olds to protect against severe complications of flu.

In its recent bulletin to CCGs, NHS England said: ‘There are a range of resources on the topic of porcine gelatine in influenza vaccine available on the Public Health England website, including Q&As for health professionals. CCG clinical leads should cascade this information to colleagues as appropriate.

‘However, we also acknowledge that some groups within the British Muslim community may consider the porcine product to be forbidden. In this circumstance, the individual would be unable to accept many pharmaceutical products unless there was no suitable alternative and/or the product was considered life-saving.’

The Department of Health and Public Health England have stated that there is no suitable alternative to Fluenz.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: ‘We strongly recommend that anyone whose child is offered immunisation accepts this opportunity to give their child the best protection possible against the flu virus.’

Jewish groups have said that the vaccine is acceptable.

Rabbi Abraham Adler from the Kashrus and Medicines Information Service said: ‘According to Jewish laws, there is no problem with porcine or other animal derived ingredients in non-oral products. This includes vaccines, including those administered via the nose, injections, suppositories, creams and ointments.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • Vegetarian and vegan patients may also have objections?

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  • Muslims, vegetarians, vegans and Jews would all need alternatives to consider

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  • John Glasspool

    "NHS England has issued information to CCG clinical leads, to be disseminated to GPs, that some groups within the British Muslim community might consider the Fluenz vaccine forbidden."

    "Haraam" medication is allowed if it is a dire necessity to preserve life. Now, is flu vaccine a "dire necessity"? I am pleased not to have to answer that one. I do know that QVAR has the steroid dissolved in alcohol, but it is said to have been approved by Muslims.

    The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah does not put your cure in that which He has forbidden to you.”

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  • Yes..and Jews and vegetarians too.

    We must take the greatest care not offend vegetarians.

    I'd appreciate more guidance from NHS England on how to avoid giving offence to vegetarians.

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  • for God Sake! it is allowed and the denaturalisation taken place when prepared will make the porcine gelatine totally different to the one used in pig!

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  • Anonymous | Other healthcare professional | 10 December 2014 0:51am

    it is a little convoluted how far this goes. I mean most of the water on the planet has had some kind of haraam animal drink it and urinate and then recycled. All life then comes from that.

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  • Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP | 10 December 2014 1:43pm

    Exactly. and you would think if it means so much to own's beliefs, they should check it themselves first and decide if its acceptable or not

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  • Will it open a can of worms in terms of muslim pateints suing GP practices re the lack of information re the vaccine contents before they were offered ?

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