HC Deb 22 February 1972 vol 831 cc1082-3
7. Mr. Brewis

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further consideration he has now given to the effectiveness of anti-flu vaccination; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Alison

Influenza vaccines currently available can be expected to give short-lived protection for between 40 to 60 per cent. of individuals vaccinated. A further trial of available vaccines is now in progress.

Mr. Brewis

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, which marks an advance in the situation. Would he be prepared to take into account the research which has already been done in countries such as France, the United States and Japan, whose Governments have sponsored anti-influenza vaccines officially?

Mr. Alison

My hon. Friend might know that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advises that certain exposed groups might beneficially be vaccinated on that basis in this country. On the question of research, the Public Health Laboratory is undertaking a large-scale trial of available vaccine.

Mr. Lipton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I tried one of these anti-flu vaccinations not long ago and that I have had colds on and off ever since? When will the Minister do something about the exaggerated claims of drug manufacturers?

Mr. Alison

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman will allow us to take him to the Public Health Laboratory for a trial period?

Dr. Stuttaford

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a considerable difference between influenza, which will kill, and the cold, which may be inconvenient, and that, although vaccination gives only a short-lived protection, so indeed is the 'flu season only short-lived?

Mr. Alison

I take my hon. Friend's point. I think that if we allowed all people who had colds to progress as far as getting pneumonia we could then cure them.

Dr. Miller

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether the statistics which he has for the efficacy of the vaccine, in which he said that 40 to 60 per cent. were protected, include the large number of people who, while they may not be completely protected from the ravages of 'flu, certainly get it in a much milder form?

Mr. Alison

I cannot answer that question, which borders upon the realms of specialised medical knowledge, but I will write to the hon. Gentleman about it