HC Deb 21 July 1958 vol 592 cc13-5
13. Mr. Russell

asked the Minister of Health whether he is yet in a position to announce any further extension of the poliomyelitis vaccine programme.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Yes, Sir. Having reviewed the progress that has been made in the existing programme of vaccination against poliomyelitis, the Government consider that the stage will soon be reached when it can be extended. Accordingly, we propose that eligibility for vaccination should be extended to persons born in the years 1933 to 1942, inclusive, thus raising the upper age limit from 15 to 25; that a wider range of hospital staff and their families should be brought within the programme; and that a start should be made with third injections for persons already vaccinated with two.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I propose to consult the local authority associations and the British Medical Association on the details of these extensions and then to issue all necessary information about them to local health authorities, hospital authorities and general practitioners. We hope it will be possible for a start to be made on the new vaccinations by the autumn. Persons affected by the extension of the programme should watch for local announcements telling them when and how to apply.

Mr. Russell

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that this Answer will give great satisfaction all over the country? Would he not agree that it is the result of energetic activity on the part of his Department that this extension has come on top of the successful outcome of the original programme?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for what he has said. I would like to express the appreciation which, I am sure, the House will feel to the local health authorities and the general practitioners for their vigorous prosecution of the vaccination programme during the last few months.

Mr. Blenkinsop

While welcoming the Minister's statement about the extension of the programme, may I ask whether it is now possible to increase the amount of vaccine produced in this country as against the quantity imported from the United States?

Mr. Walker-Smith

There are some supplies of British vaccine likely to be available in the near future, but still not in any great quantities for the time being. It is therefore wise for those parents who want immediate protection for their children to opt for the available vaccine.

16. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Health what progress has been made in vaccinating children in the London area against poliomyelitis.

Mr. Walker-Smith

By 30th June, 208,359 children in the County of London had been given two doses of vaccine and about a further 40,000 one dose. 97,375 registered children were at that time awaiting vaccination; but this figure included a substantial number who had not responded to invitations sent.

Mr. Lipton

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say by what date all the children at present registered will have had two inoculations?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Yes, I would hope and think by the end of this month; but as the hon. Gentleman knows, and as I have frequently pointed out to the House, in this context registration is a continuing process, so one cannot fix exact time limits in this matter.

Mr. Hastings

Will London children who did not turn up as instructed be given another chance when vaccine is available?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Oh, yes, vaccine is available and they can be vaccinated. The only difficulty in this matter—and this I should, perhaps, add in supplement to what I said in reply to the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton)—is that they can be vaccinated within that period conditional upon their accepting the type of vaccine available at that time.