Government response

Vaccines and gelatine: PHE response

Public Health England responds to media reports about vaccines and gelatine.

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Media coverage has drawn attention to the use of gelatine in vaccines, following the launch of a number of pilot programmes across England which are offering a flu vaccine to 4 to 10 year-olds, using a safe and effective nasal spray vaccine called Fluenz.

Porcine gelatine has been certified as acceptable by many multi-faith groups.

Gelatine is used to stabilise live viral vaccines and is contained in many pharmaceutical products, not just Fluenz.

Public Health England (PHE) has previously published advice on our website from representatives of the Jewish and other communities regarding porcine or other animal-derived ingredients in medicinal products such as vaccines.

Rabbi Abraham Adler from the Kashrus and Medicines Information Service, said:

It should be noted that according to Jewish laws, there is no problem with porcine or other animal derived ingredients in non-oral products. This includes vaccines, including those administered via the nose, injections, suppositories, creams and ointments.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, says:

We strongly recommend that anyone whose child is offered immunisation accepts this opportunity to give their child the best protection possible against the flu virus.

This large programme has potential to protect children against the severe complications of flu and to reduce spread to more vulnerable people such as young infants, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions.

Read the influenza vaccine and porcine gelatine: Q&As (questions and answers) for health professionals.

Read the children’s flu vaccination programme, the nasal flu vaccine Fluenz and porcine gelatine: Q&As (questions and answers) for parents.

Published 18 September 2013
Last updated 15 October 2014 + show all updates
  1. Updated to add link to Q&A for healthcare professionals.

  2. PHE updates its response on porcine gelatine.

  3. Published 2 links to documents providing advice to health professionals and the public

  4. Changed wording of sentence 'ending and confirmed that the gelatine used is considered transformed' after consultation.

  5. In the first paragraph under "pilot programmes across England", added a link to NHS Choices child flu vaccine web page.

  6. First published.