HL Deb 24 March 1986 vol 472 cc1275-6WA
Lord Nugent of Guildford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make a Statement in amplification of the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, on 20th March 1986 with regard to the effectiveness of influenza vaccinations (Official Report, cols. 1046 to 1048).

Baroness Trumpington

Recommendations on the composition and use of influenza vaccines for the forthcoming winter are made each year to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation by the Advisory Group on the Antigenic Composition of Influenza Vaccine. Advice is given to the medical profession by the chief medical officer as necessary in the light of the recommendations of the joint committee. The joint committee has re-affirmed that vaccination before each winter is not at present recommended for the attempted control of the general spread of influenza; it is not included among those vaccinations to be used in the furtherance of public policy.

Our current advice is that individual protection should be considered for persons with chronic diseases, old people in residential homes and certain categories of children. Vaccination of National Health Service staff is normally recommended only for those who are at risk in the groups previously mentioned. The reason for vaccinating these groups is that they would be most likely to suffer serious consequences if they contracted influenza.

The routine vaccination conducted in the school which I mentioned (Official Report, 20th March 1986, col. 1046) ceased because it was found that as high a proportion of vaccinated children as unvaccinated children contracted influenza each year. Vaccine for one strain of influenza may not work for newer strains emerging each winter. The vaccine must therefore be reformulated to cope with each new situation.

I am placing in the Library of the House a copy of the latest letter from the chief medical officer to doctors.