HC Deb 30 July 1962 vol 664 cc25-6
36 and 37. Dr. D. Johnson

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he is satisfied with the results of his campaign to increase the present rate of infant vaccination against smallpox; and if he will make a statement;

(2) to what extent, during his present propaganda campaign to maintain a high rate of infant vaccination, efforts are being made to develop alternative methods of immunisation against smallpox which provide the same degree of safety as with immunisation measures against other diseases.

39. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health what progress is being made in the campaign for a high rate of infant vaccination against small pox; what consideration is being given to alternative methods of immunisation against smallpox which provide equal safety against the disease; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Powell

On 18th July I asked local health authorities to make comprehensive plans to raise the level of vaccination and immunisation generally. I understand that research into alternative protection against smallpox continues, but that so far none giving equal immunity has been found.

Dr. Johnson

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the pleasure which I feel, first, that my constituency is top of the league, so to speak, in this respect, and, secondly, that on this occasion he and I find ourselves in the same lobby, so to speak? Does he not consider it unreasonable that the B.M.A. apparently criticises his vaccination policy although the orthodox medical profession for a long time has been resistant to variations and suggested variations in this ancient method of vaccination which is still in vogue and has been practically unaltered since Jenner's day? Would he make this point in his dealings about it with the medical profession?

Mr. Powell

I have no doubt that investigation is being pushed ahead on this matter, but no practical application has yet been arrived at.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that because of recent statements about the vaccination of infants there is a great deal of confusion on this subject, especially among parents? Can he do something to clarify the matter so that we may know where we are?

Mr. Powell

The hon. Gentleman will be reassured to know that in its handbook for this year the B.M.A. recommends routine vaccination in infancy and that this policy was re-endorsed by my Standing Medical Advisory Committee as recently as last year.

Mr. S. Silverman

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is still true that more people die from vaccination than from smallpox? If that is true, What inference does his Department draw from the fact?

Mr. Powell

It is not true in those terms.

Mr. Sorensen

Has anything been done to deal with the statements made by a high medical authority and contrary to that given to the British Medical Association?

Mr. Powell

I hope that my answer to the hon. Gentleman will put that matter in its right perspective.

Mr. Fletcher

In what terms is it true that more infants die as a result of vaccination than smallpox?

Mr. Powell

If the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question on the figures, I will give them.

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