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Vaccines Made from Insects

Dear Rabbi,
My employer requires yearly flu shots. I have egg allergy and had medical exemption until this year. This year new vaccine is offered that is based on cells of caterpillar (armyworm). The name of the vaccine is Flublok. As an observing Jew, i feel uncomfortable injecting caterpillar cells into by body. Please advise me if my religious beliefs are justified. Thank you.

Answer:

There is no problem using this vaccine according to the Torah.

The Torah prohibition against ingesting insects is only with regards to eating them as one would eat food. Injecting them into the bloodstream invoves no prohibition. Only forbidden mixtures of milk and meat carry with them an additional prohibition of benefiting from them in any way.

In fact the vaccine does not actually contain insect cells rather the cells are used to harvest the protein which serves as the vaccine. Even the cells themselves are not the worm in it’s original form rather an extraction on the cellular level. Prohibited foods which undergo such extreme change are no longer subject to the Biblical prohibition of eating that food. So in fact it would seem this vaccine would be permissible for oral consumption as well, and certainly as an injection.

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