HC Deb 01 July 1976 vol 914 cc277-8W
Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) why he is unable to make reliable estimates of the total number of children damaged by vaccines;

(2) why data derived from information supplied by doctors about vaccine damage would be misleading;

(3) if he will publish in the Official Report the evidence of the incidence of: (a) mild reaction, (b) severe reaction and (c) deaths after whooping cough vaccination;

(4) if he will estimate the proportion of adverse reactions to vaccination that are reported to the Committee on Safety of Medicines.

Dr. Owen

The reports of suspected adverse reactions sent to the Committee on Safety of Medicines vary widely in severity. The adverse reaction may or may not be related to a specific vaccination event. For example, it is not uncommon for young children to have a convulsion while suffering from a febrile illness. Such convulsions usually produce no permanent ill effects.

Whether or not adverse effects are reported as a suspected reaction to a vaccine depends very largely on the timing of the event in relation to the date of vaccination, and on whether or not the person observing the alleged reaction was aware that the child had been recently vaccinated.

Because the preparations often used to vaccinate children are intended to protect them against more than one disease—for example, polio and tetanus and diphtheria and whooping cough—and it often impossible to distinguish which component was responsible for the subsequent reaction. The reports merely reflect the general pattern of adverse responses to vaccination and do not necessarily give a clear indication of their incidence or severity. Reliable estimates can be obtained only from special studies, in which every child who is vaccinated is examined for possible harmful, or beneficial, effects. I am setting out in another reply to my hon. Friend today the special studies currently in progress.

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