Pork Gelatin In NHS Vaccines Branded 'Disappointing' By Campaigners

They want to see alternatives available for people who avoid animal products
A nurse with a vaccination
Campaigners want animal-free alternatives to NHS vaccinations (Photo: Licensed from Adobe. Do not reuse without permission)

The Vegetarian Society has branded the use of pork gelatin in three NHS vaccines in national vaccination programs 'disappointing', according to the BBC.

Vaccines against flu (Fluenz Tetra), shingles (Zostavax), and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR VaxPro) contain the product derived from pigs. It is used as a stabilizer - and according to Public Health England, may never be replaced with an alternative.

The society's Chief Executive Lynne Elliot described this inclusion of animal products in the medicine as 'upsetting', adding there should be 'vegetarian and vegan versions of all medicines and vaccines'. Some vaccines also contain other animal-derived ingredients.

pig on a factory farm
Some vaccines contain pork-derived gelatin

Vegan medicine

When it comes to medication generally, even if medicines, including vaccines, contain animal products, The Vegan Society says: "[We] DO NOT recommend you avoid medication prescribed to you by your doctor."

However, the Society has previously called on the Government to 'find out what animal-free alternatives to prescription products already exist, and to bring them in across the board'.

It also wants: "Guidance for medical professionals about seeking consent when using animal-based medicines, and guidance for manufacturers to improve labeling, to include ingredients of animal origin, similar to the labeling of food."

"Vegans are careful to avoid the use and consumption of animals, or animal-derived ingredients, however, I think most would be surprised to find out that many common medicines are not vegan, and therefore the taking of them is not in line with their beliefs," said a Vegan Society spokesperson.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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Maria is the Editor of Plant Based News. A former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers. She was previously the editor of Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.

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