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OFFICIAL ISLAMIC MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA (IMASA) STANCE ON VACCINATION
16th May 2017
Disease prevention is one of the goals of public health and vaccination is an important component that assists in the facilitation of this goal. Undoubtedly, vaccines protect both people who receive them and those with whom they come into contact. Muslims should note that through global vaccination initiatives many infectious diseases such as Polio, Measles, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Rubella (German Measles), Mumps and Tetanus, that were once common in the different countries of the world, have finally been brought under control and in many developed countries virtually eliminated.
Muslims should therefore take cognisance of the fact that over the years, vaccines have succeeded in preventing countless cases of infectious diseases and their complications resulting in reduction of disabilities and literally millions of lives saved!
IMASA is well aware that the Glorious Qur’an forbids Muslims from consuming pork (Al-An`ȃm, 6:145) and in view of this particular Ayah, Muslims in general are uncomfortable when they come to learn that porcine elements are used in the manufacturing process of certain vaccines. However, it is important for Muslims to take note of the fact that as far back as 1995 more than 100 Muslim legal scholars participated in a Seminar convened in Kuwait by the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences on the topic: “The Judicially Prohibited & Impure Substances in Foodstuffs and Drugs.” At the conclusion of this Seminar the consensus arrived at, was: “transformation of pork products into gelatin alters them sufficiently to make it permissible for observant Muslims to receive vaccines containing pork gelatin”.
IMASA further wishes to draw the attention of the general Muslims to the Objectives of Islamic Law that are termed as Maqȃsid al-Sharī`ah which are:
- Preservation of Religion (Hifẓ al-dīn).
- Preservation of life ((Hifẓ al-nafs).
- Preservation of progeny ((Hifẓ al-nasl).
- Preservation of intellect ((Hifẓ al-`aql).
- Preservation of wealth (Hifz al-mȃl).
Interestingly, vaccination fulfils all of the above five objectives of the Sharī`ah:
- Firstly, insofar as preservation of the Religion is concerned, Muslims who are vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases will be in a better position to uphold and practice all the farȃ’id (obligatory acts of worship) of Islam.
- Secondly, vaccination initiatives by facilitating universal access of safe vaccines have succeeded in the preservation of the lives of millions of people across the globe, thereby reducing global morbidity and mortality.
- Thirdly, parents who opt to have their children vaccinated would have fulfilled the preservation of their progeny by safeguarding them from succumbing to the vaccine preventable diseases.
- Fourthly, preservation of intellect/sanity is achieved through vaccination in that those who implement the vaccination initiatives in their community and country at large will enjoy peace of mind knowing that their community and citizens have been protected from contracting the vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Fifthly, vaccination contributes to the preservation of wealth. It is an extremely cost-effective intervention and makes good economic sense in that it is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it and its resultant complications.
According to SANHA: “Administering medication that contains prohibited/ unlawful substances would only be deemed permissible under the following circumstances:
- The patient’s life is endangered or the ailment would worsen if the medication is not administered.
- No Halaal alternative or substitute medication is available.
- The medication is prescribed by an experienced Muslim medical practitioner of religious integrity and acknowledged repute.
Although vaccination of your child does not treat a life-threatening disease it does prevent one. Not vaccinating a large group in South Africa like all Muslims is also likely to seriously jeopardize public health efforts to control or eradicate measles.
The current vaccine being used by the Government is Measbio, which contains gelatine. There are alternative vaccines available, which includes Rouvax [Measles Only] or Priorix [Combined MMR]. It is understood that these does not contain gelatine.
Based on the above the IMASA recommendations are as follows:
- Your child must be vaccinated against Measles.
- It would be preferred to use Rouvax / Priorix in children older than nine months of age is available and affordable. Communities should co- operate to try to help those less fortunate to afford this vaccine if possible.
- If your child has not been vaccinated and is unable to gain access to a non-gelatin containing vaccine it would be advised to take the vaccine available.
The IMASA together with other Muslim groups should advocate and promote the use of the non -porceine gelatin containing vaccine if medically equivalent. We should apply pressure to make this vaccine available and affordable.
Finally, IMASA endorses vaccination of Muslim children because the overall benefit of vaccination at the individual level is to strengthen their immunity and to protect their bodies from fatal diseases whilst at the community level it leads to healthy, productive and useful members of society.
May Allah guide us all
Mr Solly Suleman [President of IMASA] & National Executive Committee