A row has broken out over a flu vaccination spray aimed at children which Muslim parents say they cannot use because it contains pig- derived products.
Fluenz is a nasal spray which contains a weakened version of the flu virus that helps prepare the body to defend itself against the virus.
The solution contains a highly processed form of gelatin, a pork product which Muslims consider unclean and forbidden.
Imam at Blackpool Central Mosque, Maulana Ashfaq Patel, said: “We don’t accept it because it contains pig gelatine.
“The experts say the substance has been transformed for the vaccination spray, but we’re not convinced by it, it’s still porcine.”
Mr Patel believes Public Health England – which is distributing the vaccine – should have spoken to community leaders in the UK.
He said: “What happens is they’ve taken advice from abroad but they’ve not considered any scholars locally.”
Salim Mulla, executive member Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “My personal view is that Muslims should not accept this spray and a lot of people will be angry that the injected vaccine is not an option for all children. I think it’s outrageous and everyone should be given a choice.”
However, Dr Arif Rajpura, director of public health for Blackpool, and a Muslim, believes that the vaccine ought to be accepted in the community.
He said: “Among the Muslim population there is also a difference in opinion, with some considering it acceptable and others forbidden.
“My personal view as a Muslim health professional is that this vaccine should be acceptable.”
Eddie Collett, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for public health, urged those with concerns to seek out additional advice:
“I would urge any parents who may be concerned to speak to their doctor about alternatives that can be offered,” he added.
Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “Pork is absolutely haram, or illegal, and not allowed at all, but sometimes they can clinically transform it into different products and then some say it’s fine.
“In the end it comes down to individual choice. The important thing is that people need to be informed really clearly, otherwise it will cause a lot of resentment.”