HC Deb 16 June 1958 vol 589 cc675-7
42 and 43. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Health (1) the categories of persons for whom registration is at present accepted for vaccination against poliomyelitis; and when he anticipates he will be able to extend the priority to other categories; and

(2) when he anticipates there will be enough vaccine against poliomyelitis for all persons at present registered to have the full three vaccinations.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The classes at present eligible for vaccination are children over six months old born in or after 1943, expectant mothers, general practitioners, ambulance staff, hospital staff whose work brings them into contact with acute poliomyelitis, and the families of the last three groups. By 30th April, the latest date for which detailed information is available, over 3 million persons in Great Britain had been vaccinated with two injections, just over 2½ million were awaiting vaccination and a further 500,000 were awaiting their second injection. On that date the local health authorities held 1 million doses of vaccine and they have since received over 5 million more.

This is more than sufficient to complete the vaccination with two doses of all persons registered by 30th April if they are willing to accept the type of vaccine available.

Registration is a continuing process, and further supplies of vaccine are being distributed from time to time to keep pace with new registrations.

I cannot at present make any statement in regard to extending the offer of vaccination to other priority groups or about the giving of third doses.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that that Answer will cause very considerable anxiety in the country? Is he aware that some of the categories outside those he has mentioned feel very aggrieved at the idea that they will not be vaccinated against poliomyelitis, particularly people in the sanitary service? I sent to the Minister details of a case in which a man died as a consequence of not being vaccinated.

Is the Minister also aware that at present eight children in Halifax, the highest number ever registered there, are suffering from this disease in consequence of not having been treated? When is he going to get sufficient vaccine to enable the three doses, which are essential, to be given and for the appropriate categories to be dealt with?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am bound to say that I am surprised at the questions asked by the hon. Member, although little that he says in fact surprises me. In answer to his Question, I made a statement pointing out that sufficient vaccine is available to deal with the programme we have announced, and then he asked if I was aware that my Answer would cause anxiety. On the contrary, I should have thought that it would cause gratification to all right-thinking people.

Dr. Summerskill

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us the number of these who have refused vaccination on the ground that they cannot have the type they prefer?

Mr. Walker-Smith

The response to the offer of Salk vaccine varies in accordance with the areas, but, in answer to the right hon. Lady's general question, I would say that, on the whole, parents are accepting the advice of the Medical Research Council and are having their children vaccinated with the vaccine available in their area rather than let them go unvaccinated over the summer season.

44. Mr. Gibson

asked the Minister of Health if, in view of the increase in the numbers of poliomyelitis cases in London during 1957, he will give an assurance that a sufficient supply of vaccine will be available to give all the people eligible for inoculation two injections.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The London County Council already has sufficient vaccine to complete the inoculation with two doses of all persons registered on 30th April. Further supplies are being distributed from time to time to keep pace with new registrations.

Mr. Gibson

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman keep in close touch with the medical authorities in the London area, because there is a fear that they will not have enough, particularly as some people are dubious about allowing the Salk vaccine to be used?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am glad to say that we are in very close and continuous touch with the medical authorities of the London County Council. I think that they are quite happy with the position as it is. They will no doubt bring to the notice of parents the advice of the Medical Research Council about the use of the Salk vaccine.

Mr. Edelman

Have there been any unfavourable results from the use of the Salk vaccine?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Not that I know of.

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