Please click here to read the British Islamic Medical Associations stance on the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Operation Vaccination is a campaign to increase awareness in Muslim communities about the importance of getting a flu vaccination this winter 2020-21.
Flu affects our immune system, making it easier for us to contract other infections, like COVID-19 or pneumonia, and can make other long-term illnesses worse. With Muslim communities having higher mortality rates of COVID-19 than any other faith group, flu threatens to further impact the health of our communities.
Operation Vaccination is a campaign initiated by the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) to increase awareness in Muslim communities about the importance of getting the flu vaccination this winter.
This campaign has the potential to save thousands of lives God Willing (insha’Allah), as past flu outbreaks have caused between 4,000 to 22,000 deaths in England alone.
What can I do?
We are encouraging all Muslim families to vaccinate their children as part of the routine schedule, and ensure all those who are older and at risk also get their flu jabs.
To help your community as part of Operation Vaccination, you can contact your local commissioning organisation and public health body to launch a campaign in your local area, using our toolkit and resources below.
Read up more on the key facts (PDF) should you have any queries:
- Why is it essential to get vaccinated against flu?
- What do our Islamic teachings say on this issue?
- Do all flu vaccines contain pork gelatine?
- Can Muslims choose which flu vaccine is given to their children?
- Where can I get a flu vaccine?
- Where can I get more information?
Should my child take Fluenz?
For the 2020/21 flu season, children whose parents refuse Fluenz nasal spray due to the porcine gelatine content may be offered the injectable inactivated flu vaccine as an alternative to Fluenz where stocks allow. This could be delayed due to vaccine shortages and is scheduled for November, subject to availability. The children who are in high risk categories will be prioritised over those objecting to Fluenz on religious grounds.
Speak to a trusted religious scholar about taking Fluenz if you have concerns about it’s porcine gelatine content. Please do not delay this decision as it is important to protect the health of your child if they are in the high risk category.
Do flu vaccines contain pork gelatine?
Not all flu vaccines contain pork gelatine. There are two main types of vaccines available in the UK:
- Injectable flu vaccine (used mainly for adults), which does not contain pork gelatine;
- Nasal spray vaccine (called Fluenz Tetra, used in children aged 2-18), which does contain pork gelatine.
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.
Read more information about the provisions for faith communities set out by the NHS here.
Seven steps to protect your community
To get involved in Operation Vaccination and encourage Muslims in your community to get the flu jab, we recommend the following seven step plan to set up your own campaign, using our toolkit and resources.
- Identify your team members and support group.
- Know the facts about Fluenz and the flu vaccination.
- Familiarise your team with the toolkit and its content.
- Contact your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and public health officials, and set agenda points for the discussion.
- Prepare important points to discuss in your own strategy meeting.
- Meet as part of your local Flu Vaccination Team and plan your cooperative approach.
- Go! Begin your campaign and look out for additional toolkit content release.
Operation Vaccination toolkit
We’ve produced a range of resources, including guidance, top tips template letters to help you set up your local Operation Vaccination campaign and protect your community.
Flu vaccine publicity campaign – top tips
Advice on how local public health bodies coordinate flu campaigns and how you can work alongside this framework, as well as when is best to launch your own campaign.
Initial letter to local flu vaccination team
Template letter that can be sent from your Mosque Vaccination Team to your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Vaccinations Lead and local Director of Public Health to inform them of your Operation Vaccination campaign.
Engaging with the local vaccination team
Template letter to be sent to your local vaccination team to set up a meeting to discuss the campaign, with a proposed meeting agenda.
What to do if you don’t receive a response
If you haven’t received a response to your letter requesting a meeting, you can send this follow-up letter.
Preparing for your first strategy meeting
Advice on what to do before your first strategy meeting, including deciding who will be the lead from your team and what to discuss in the meeting with the local vaccination team.
Meeting with your local vaccination team
Guidance for the first meeting with the local vaccination team, including a proposed agenda and what you need to prepare.