Flu affects our immune system making it easier for us to contract other infections (such as Covid-19 or pneumonia). For those suffering from a long-term illness, contracting flu at the same time can make their condition worse. Vaccination against flu has been shown to protect us by stopping the spread of it in households and communities (schools, mosques etc), reduce admissions to hospital and the number of winter deaths – especially of our elders. Around 10,000 deaths are caused by flu each year in England and Wales

However, flu vaccination levels have dropped across the UK in recent years, particularly in Muslim communities. This year, for the first time, NHS bodies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be offering the injectable flu vaccine, which does not contain pork gelatine, to children who cannot have the nasal spray vaccine on religious grounds. A national campaign – Operation Vaccination – has been spearheaded by the British Islamic Medical Association and supported by the Muslim Council of Britain, British Board of Scholars & Imams and the NHS Muslim Network Health Collaboration.

Do all flu vaccines contain pork gelatine?

No. There are two main types of flu vaccine available in the UK:

  1. Injectable flu vaccine – these do NOT contain pork gelatine;
  2. Nasal spray vaccine (called “Fluenz Tetra”used in all children from age 2 – 18 years old except those that are allergic to the vaccine) – This DOES contain pork gelatine.

As part of a Public health pilot, the Luton NHS / BLMK School Immunisation Team are offering injectable flu vaccines (without pork gelatine) to all students in 9 Luton primary schools – Beechwood Primary, Denbigh Primary, Downside Primary, Icknield Primary, Leagrave Primary, Maidenhall Primary, Mehria Primary, Oakwood Primary and Rabia School.

Also, after years of campaigning, the NHS in England & Wales will now join Scotland and Northern Ireland in offering the injectable flu vaccine (which does not contain pork gelatine) for those parents who object to the nasal spray Fluenz Tetra vaccine on religious grounds for their children this winter. Everyone can now get a flu jab that has no pork gelatine.

For parents of children in school, do inform your school about your requirement, on religious grounds, and they will inform the school immunisation team. As stated in the national 2020-2021 guidance, if the parent of a child eligible for the routine childhood immunisation programme refuses the nasal spray and they request an alternative vaccine, this will be offered to them where possible (based on local supply). Providers of childrens vaccination services will receive further instruction on the offering of this service, including vaccine supply arrangements.

Official statement from the Department of Health and Social care

Available online here or download the letter – National Flu Immunisation Letter_2020_to_2021_update

Where else can you get the vaccination in Luton?

  1. Ask at your GP surgery specifying a flu injection, rather than a nasal spray.
  2. Your local Lloyds Pharmacy If you are not eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination, you can still protect yourself with a private flu vaccine for just £12.99.
  3. Birdfoots Pharmacy  For over 18’s. The private Flu Jab Service costs £8.00 or free if you’re eligible to receive it on the NHS.