Thursday, 11 June 2009
MENINGITIS JAB FOR PILGRIMS
Vaccine with lard allowed in Islam, says medical group KUALA LUMPUR - The administration of an anti-meningitis vaccine containing lard is allowed in Islam, according to the Malaysian Islamic Medicine Association. Association president Musa Mohomad Nordin was quoted as saying by Berita Minggu that this was because the vaccine had undergone a transformation process that altered its form and contents from pigs. Advertisement According to the Malay Sunday newspaper, world-renowned religious leaders reached an understanding at the 8th Islamic Medicine-Fiqh seminar held in Kuwait in 1995 that vaccines containing lard were permissible. Dr Musa said some vaccines for meningitis such as ACYW 135 contained lard but pilgrims performing the yearly Haj needed the vaccine, adding that the move to allow the use of such vaccine had benefited many. Under the logic of the transformation process, he explained, products such as gelatin extracted and processed from bones, skin and tendon of animals prohibited by Islam, would become usable by Muslims. He added that even soap containing lard come under the 'transformed' category and was considered safe for consumption. His remarks followed a controversy over the use of vaccines containing lard by Malaysian pilgrims recently after local clinics ran out of supply of vaccines which did not contain the prohibitive ingredient. Muslims performing the main pilgrimage, the Haj, and the lesser pilgrimage, the Umrah, are required to be inoculated against meningitis, a potentially-fatal disease that causes inflammation of the brain. The Saudi authorities imposed this requirement following an outbreak of the disease among pilgrims in 1987 which claimed many lives, including that of several Malaysians. But recently, because of an outbreak of a new strain of meningitis, the Saudi government instructed that all pilgrims be inoculated with the Quadrivalent Meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine for the Haj season with effect from this year.