A nasal flu vaccine that contains pig gelatin has triggered Muslim parents’ concerns, whose children could miss out the free scheme for containing the substance prohibited in Islamic faith.
“I am not in a position to tell people whether to let their child have the vaccine. However, I have three children and I will not allow them to have the nasal vaccine, because of my faith,” Councillor Syed Hussain, who represents the Anglesey Ward on East Staffordshire Borough Council, told Burton Mail on Thursday, October 1.
“I have visited a lot of people who are in the same position. This is not for the greater good.”
The nasal vaccine is being offered to pupils in Years 1 and 2 across East Staffordshire as part of a drive to help protect them against seasonal flu.
Concerns erupted as the vaccine contains a processed form of gelatin, which is not acceptable in some faith groups.
The gelatin, which is used in a range of many essential medicines, is derived from boiling skin, tendons, ligaments and bones of pigs.
The injectable flu vaccines that do not contain pork gelatine are considered less effective in healthy children and do less to reduce the spread of flu in the community.
Expecting concerns from Muslim parents, primary schools in the area sent to inform them on the program and the components of the vaccines.
Anglesey Primary Academy, in Clarence Street, Burton, went one step further and sent out a text to all parents of the school to warn them again as a precautionary measure.
“Our school has a lot of Muslim children so we sent an alert to all parents to make sure they were fully informed,” Charlotte Hopkins, head teacher at the academy, said.
Dr James Shipman, partnership trust medical director, said: “The nasal vaccine provides the best protection against flu, particularly in young children. It also reduces the risk to family members, who may be more vulnerable to the complications of flu.
“The injected vaccine is not thought to reduce spread so effectively and so is not being offered to healthy children as part of this program.
“However, if a child is at high risk from flu due to one or more medical conditions and can’t have the nasal flu vaccine they should have the flu vaccine by injection.”
Islam considers pigs unclean because they are omnivorous, not discerning between meat or vegetation in their natural dietary habits unlike cows and sheep for instance, which eat only plants.
Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat.
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.