HC Deb 19 January 1977 vol 924 cc251-3W
Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what investigative action has been taken to date by his Department since the publication in January 1974 of a paper co-authored by Dr. John Wilson, which showed that 12 out of 36 children with brain damage ascribed to vaccination had contra-indications; and whether his Department issued further advice on contra-indications after consideration of Dr. Wilson's paper;

(2) what has been the annual number of adverse reactions to vaccines reported through the yellow card system since it was first introduced; and whether his Department has taken any steps to assess the approximate proportion of adverse reactions that are reported;

(3) whether any steps were taken by his Department, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation or the Committee on Safety of Medicines further to investigate any of the reported adverse reactions to vaccines; and if he will specify what action was taken and by whom;

(4) if he has made any attempt to assess whether doctors implement the recommendations on minimum age for vaccination given by his Department; and, in particular, whether they do so in the period just after a change in the recommended age;

(5) if he is satisfied that the recommendations on minimum age for immunisation are generally implemented; and if he will make a statement;

(6) whether his Department informed doctors when the strength of the whooping cough vaccine was doubled; and if it was related to change in the minimum age for immunisation from three months to six months;

(7) whether it is his Department's policy that parents of children undergoing: (a) operations and (b) immunisation should be informed of the risks involved, however small they may be;

(8) if he will request the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to publish the evidence on the basis of which it recommended that the whooping cough vaccine should continue to be recommended as a joint procedure;

(9) if he will give a precise meaning to the words "low" and "serious" as used by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in its report published in the British Medical Journal on 20th September 1975, which said that the incidence of serious hazards was low;

(10) whether he is satisfied that all immunised children are given the absorbed vaccine and not the plain whooping-cough vaccine; and if he will make a statement;

(11) if he has consulted other Common Market countries concerning their policy on whooping-cough vaccination; and if he will make a statement;

(12) for what reasons his Department refused the request of the Association of Vaccine Damaged Children to examine the 300 cases of children with brain damage ascribed to vaccine damage;

(13) in which areas of the country medical officers of health are discouraging the routine use of the whooping-cough vaccine; and whether there is any evidence of vaccination in the incidence of disease in these areas compared with similar ones;

(14) if he will make a statement on the progress being made by the sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which is looking into the complications arising from vaccination; and if he will undertake to publish the report when it is received;

(15) if he will further elucidate his statement in the Official Report of 20th May 1976 that it was not possible to make reliable estimates of the overall incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines generally;

(16) what advice his Department gave to doctors about the use of whooping-cough vaccine prior to the start of the immunisation scheme in 1957, in the light of papers published by Byers and Moll in America in 1948, and by Harris and Anderson in the United Kingdom in 1950, each of which reported on encephalophy after vaccination and suggested contra-indications; and how this advice differs, if at all, from that which his Department currently gives.

Mr. Ennals

It will take me a few days to assemble the information required in my hon. Friend's Questions, but I will let him have a reply as soon as possible. As I indicated in reply to the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley), on 17th January, I shall be making a full statement on vaccination very shortly.