§ 81. Mr. Barnett
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will consider making anti-influenza vaccine readily available free of charge to the whole community; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what consideration he has given to making anti-influenza vaccine readily available free of charge to elderly people;
(3) what consideration he has given to the saving of working days lost through influenza from making the anti-influenza vaccine readily available free of charge; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Alison
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advise my right hon. Friend that the spread of influenza is unlikely to be prevented by the routine use of influenza vaccine. The most that can be expected of vaccines currently available is short-lived protection for between 40 to 60 per cent. of individuals vaccinated. To give vaccine annually to the whole community would be an operation of enormous scale and of doubtful benefit.
Doctors have been advised that the committee's view is that vaccination may be indicated for the protection of persons suffering from certain chronic diseases in whom influenza might aggravate their disability; these are likely to include some elderly. It has also been suggested that there might be advantage in offering vaccination to inter alia, elderly persons in residential establishments. There would be no charge to the patients for such vaccinations.
I am doubtful whether an estimate can be made of the likelihood and extent that vaccination would reduce loss of working days through influenza but am considering the matter.