HC Deb 01 December 1958 vol 596 cc828-9
25. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Health for what proportion of children under 15 years of age, who have had two injections of poliomyelitis vaccine, the parents have agreed to a third some months later; what proportion of children have already had a third injection; and what steps are being taken to urge parents to agree to this boosting dose.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Third injections started only this autumn, and by the end of October nearly 250,000 had been carried out. This represented about a tenth of the children who had had their second injection seven months or more before that date. I have so far had no evidence of parents refusing to allow their children to have third injections when their turn comes. Appropriate references to the value of the boosting dose will, however, continue to be made in the publicity about the vaccination scheme.

Mr. Hastings

If there is clear evidence that for the best results to be obtained a third dose is necessary, and now that there appears to be an abundance of the vaccine available, cannot the right hon. and learned Gentleman exercise more pressure so that more than 250,000 children receive the boosting dose at the right time—that is to say, about six or seven months after the primary dose?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong about the time. The recommendation is that the vaccine should be offered not less than seven months after the second injection, but it has been found that a good response is obtained to a third injection given after a much longer interval. I am, of course, very anxious that the third injection should be given, but the Joint Committee on polio vaccine has recommended that the vaccination of all people eligible with two doses should take precedence over a third injection. I am particularly anxious to get the remaining children vaccinated with two doses.