HC Deb 22 November 1968 vol 773 cc349-50W
Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what methods the Government will have at its disposal to deal with the serious influenza threat likely to reach this country around Christmas; if he is satisfied that the A2 virus vaccine will be available in sufficient quantities in time; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir W. Robson Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what shortages exist in supplies of immunisation vaccines against all types of influenza; what steps are being taken to overcome such shortages; and whether special priority is being given to persons at risk.

Mr. Hesetine

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what supplies of vaccine are available against Hong Kong influenza; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ennals

Vaccination against influenza may be desirable for the protection of persons suffering from certain chronic diseases (for example, chronic bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary tuberculosis, chronic heart disease, chronic renal disease and diabetes) in whom an atack of influenza might be dangerous, and guidance on this has been given to medical practitioners. There is a shortage of monovalent vaccine prepared from the variant of A2 virus isolated in Hong Kong in July, 1968. Manufacturers are giving priority to its production and some vaccine is being imported, but supply is unlikely for some time to meet all possible demands. Because of concentration on the Hong Kong variant, supplies to wholesalers of the polyvalent vaccine have necessarily been curtailed and there has recently been difficulty in some areas in obtaining polyvalent vaccine.

I have requested manufacturers to have regard in their marketing arrangements to the need to make vaccine available to hospitals and local health authorities wishing to vaccinate staff at risk because of contact with patients, and to pharmacists for prescription by general medical practitioners.

The resources of the National Health Service are available for the treatment of influenza.