In terms of the flu vaccines, then we should know that there are two varieties. One is a nasal spray which has pork (porcine) gelatin and the other is the regular flu injection, which does not [Reference]. The nasal vaccine is given to children ranging from age 2-17 and is recommended by doctors and health officials. The regular injection is not offered to healthy children unless they are at a risk of the flu. Thus, the issue at hand is can parents have their children take the nasal vaccination, which has pork gelatin?
The scholars have passed the verdict that it is permissible to use medicine that contains pork if there is a need and no other alternative exists.
Shaikh Ibn ul-‘Uthaymeen (d. 1421 H.), may Allah have mercy upon him, said,
“In relation to using this medicine which has lard in it, then if it is affirmed that there is lard in it, then there is no harm in using it due to a need . . .” End translation. [Reference]
Shaikh Yahya al-Hajuri (may Allah preserve him) said,
“How many medicines have something of pork derivatives like what they called Insulin and it is a needle for diabetes? The doctors have affirmed that some of the needles contain something of pork and with that, if this needle contains this type of ingredient and there exists an alternative for it, then it is impermissible to use it. This is because it is haram. If there does not exist an alternative, then it is not allowed to use that medicine except during a necessity. Allah clarified that necessities make a prohibited thing permissible. He said:
إِلَّا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ
Explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity [6:119]
“. End translation. [Ajwibah ar-Radiyyah ‘ala Asilah at-Tibiyyah (pg. 7)]
The Islamic Fiqh Academy (المجمع الفقهي الإسلامي) in 2003 discussed the following issue, “The ruling on using medicine containing a specific impurity like pork while there exists an alternative which has less benefit, such as new Heparin”.
The Academy concluded saying,
“1. It is permissible to use New Heparin of low molecular weight when there does not exist a permissible alternative which is sufficient in curing [the aliment] or [if] there does exist an alternative, yet it prolongs the duration needed to be cured
2. Avoid excessive use of the medicine, except for the amount which is needed. If there exists a pure alternative which cures with certainty, then it becomes the origin in light of the difference of opinion in the matter . . . ” End translation. [Qararaat Majma’ al-Fiqhi al-Islaami bi Makkah al-Mukarramah Year 1424/2003 (pg. 40)]
The chair of the Islamic Fiqh Academy for the verdict was the Mufti Shaykh Abdul Azeez Aal Ash-Shaykh (may Allah preserve him).
So in summary, it is allowed to use medication that has pork derivatives in it if there is a necessity and no similar alternative exists. In the case of the flu vaccination, then a parent should avoid using the nasal flu vaccination. This is because there is a debate on whether or not the nasal vaccination is more effective than the injection as some studies have now shown that it is not as effective as was thought before [Reference]. As well, the flu injection is only used by doctors when the child’s condition is risky and if that is the case, then it is a viable alternative to the nasal vaccination and is free of gelatin. It is also important to consult one’s doctor as to level of the child’s risk before taking any vaccination.
And Allah Knows Best.
Benefited from: Shaykh, the Allamah, the Trustworthy Advisor, Abu Abdirrahman Yahya bin Ali Al-Hajuri – may Allah preserve him
Translated by: Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan Abu Sulaymaan