From the Telegraph
Muslim parents 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.
Public health officials have raised concern over the number of Muslim children expected to be withdrawn from a major programme beginning in schools next month.
For the first time, every healthy child of primary school age in England will be offered a nasal spray vaccine to protect people of all ages from the virus.
But Muslim parents across the country have been told that the Fluenz spray is not permitted because it contains gelatine derived from pigs, which are considered unclean. In some areas the “vast majority” of Muslim parents have vowed to withdraw their children from the programme, community leaders revealed.
Tonight the Royal College of Public Health said the situation “added to the risk of major flu outbreaks” and urged the government to offer a halal alternative vaccine acceptable to Muslims.
Public Health England documents seen by the Telegraph reveal concern that uptake in Muslim areas has already been “significantly lower” than the average. “Vaccine uptake is significantly and independently associated with increasing deprivation, ethnicity and areas with the largest Muslim populations,” the document says. Across England, the document adds, the most common reason for refusal given by parents was “vaccine contains porcine gelatine”.
NHS England has urged Muslim parents to consider making an exception because the vaccine can be “considered different from ingesting food”.
But the Muslim Council of Britain told the Telegraph that it was advising imams to tell parents that Fluenz is “not acceptable in Islam”.
Dr Shuja Shafi, chairman of the MCB's research and documentation committee, said: "We have consulted the scholars and this is their view. Since then we have been giving people the information so that they can make their judgement. We need another vaccine which is halal and can be offered to all. We urge the government and the industry to make this happen.”
Azhar Ali, leader of the Labour group on Lancashire County Council, said the “vast majority” of Muslim parents in his county planned to withdraw their children from the programme. “Many mosques have been promoting that this vaccine is not halal, so children shouldn’t use it,” he said.
Jewish leaders have already ruled the vaccine permissible because the pork gelatine is not eaten.
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