Health officials and community leaders urge Muslim community to get vaccinated to stay winter strong

12 October 2023

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) are calling on the Muslim community to come forward for their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations so they can stay well and get winter strong.

Flu and COVID-19 vaccine uptake lagged behind the wider population in England last year in some Muslim communities. Health experts are worried that the same will happen this year – leaving communities vulnerable to serious illness.

Everyone aged 65 and over is eligible for a free flu and COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant women and those with certain long term health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease are also eligible. Both vaccines are the best defence we have to reduce the chances of hospitalisation and death.

Children are also eligible for a free flu vaccine. Each winter, thousands of children need to go to hospital for treatment, including intensive care, with children under the age of 5 years having one of the highest rates of hospital admissions due to flu. By getting vaccinated, your child also protects others around them, including babies, Grandparents, and people with weak immune systems.

Parents are urged to ensure their children’s vaccination consent forms are completed, and that eligible pre-schoolers are booked for appointments at the GP practice to help reduce the spread of flu this autumn and winter. Children in Reception to Year 11 will be offered the free nasal spray flu vaccine, delivered in schools by immunisation teams up and down the country. Children aged 2 and 3 (on or before 31 August) are eligible for the free nasal spray via their GP practice.

The nasal spray is a porcine-containing product. If parents have concerns, they should speak to a trusted religious leader. Children who can’t have the nasal spray for medical or faith reasons should request an injected flu vaccine instead.

Dr Naveed Syed, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at UKHSA, said: “There are lots of things you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick this winter, but the flu and COVID-19 vaccines are the best defence we have against two potentially very serious infections. We know that uptake in many communities is far below what we need it to be to protect vulnerable family and friends, so please don’t put it off – get booked in for your vaccines today.

“Aside from protecting yourself, ensure your children are vaccinated too. Each winter thousands of children require treatment in hospital for flu or its complications. Many of these episodes could be prevented by a simple vaccine. On top of helping to keep your child healthy, the flu vaccine also helps stop the spread of flu in the community – helping to protect those who are more vulnerable and the elderly such as grandparents.”

Dr Salman Waqar, GP and President of the British Islamic Medical Association, said: “Our faith encourages us to consider the implications of our actions on the people around us. That is why we encourage eligible Muslim children, vulnerable adults, and those over the age of 65 not to delay their decision to get vaccinated for free against Covid-19 and seasonal flu. Vaccination can be lifesaving, reduces hospital admissions and the chance of community outbreaks, which will be so important as we brace for the challenges the winter months can bring.

“Parents who may not routinely be offered the injectable flu vaccine and have concerns with the nasal vaccine for children should request an injectable vaccine instead. We know many people in our community have religious concerns about the porcine content of the nasal flu spray, but they should know that the flu injection for both children and adults is free of this.”

Page last updated 12 October 2023