§ Mr. Ian Stewart
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many adverse reactions to the meningitis vaccine were reported, broken down by degree of severity, in each of the last five years. 
§ Yvette Cooper
On 1 November 1999 a national immunisation campaign started, which aimed to vaccinate all children under the age of 18 years with the new Meningococcal C conjugate vaccine by the end of 2000. Approximately 18 million doses of Meningococcal C vaccine have been distributed to date. This should be taken into account when considering the numbers of reports and reactions.
The numbers of reports and numbers of suspected reactions following the Meningococcal C vaccines reported to the Medicines Control Agency through the yellow card scheme in 1999 and 2000 are in the table.
1999 2000 Total number of reports 2,099 9,264 Total number of suspected reactions 4,592 19,177 Number of serious reports 485 2,326 Number of serious suspected reactions 574 2,676
The number of suspected reactions is greater than the number of reports because many reports list more than one reaction, e.g. nausea and headache. A reaction is classified by the MCA as serious if it is a disease, disorder, symptom or sign which is generally recognised as serious clinically or if it could be indicative of a serious disorder. The interpretation of this definition is deliberately broad; reactions such as fainting and swollen gland are classified as serious.
Evaluation of safety data from spontaneous suspected adverse reaction reports in the context of reduction of morbidity and mortality from meningitis C, indicates that the overall risk-benefit balance of this new vaccine is overwhelmingly favourable.
§ Yvette Cooper
Information on percentage uptake of meningitis C vaccine in all age groups immunised through the current programme is still being collected. This information will be published when it becomes available.