§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has completed his inquiries into the current problems of vaccination against smallpox; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I am advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that, in view of the eradication of small pox from all but a few countries and the therefore much reduced likelihood of a case of small pox reaching Britain, the routine vaccination of children need no longer be recommended. If a small pox case were to arrive, control measures should be adequate, the advice continues, to contain the infection. The staff likely to be exposed in such an event should keep up their vaccination. Persons visiting those areas where the disease has not yet been eradicated should have been recently vaccinated.
My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Secretary of State for Wales and I have accepted this advice, and our Chief Medical Officers are writing to all doctors informing them of it.
This progress with the eradication of smallpox is due to the successful campaign organised by the World Health Organisation and put into effect by more than 40 countries in South America, Africa and Asia. Vaccination remains a generally safe and reliable preventive measure, to which we owe this present advance.