HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 cc183-4W
Mr. Gardiner

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to target BCG vaccine towards areas with a particularly high incidence of TB when the vaccine is in short supply. [146326]

Yvette Cooper

It is our policy to direct BCG supply to those most at risk.

BCG vaccine against tuberculosis is currently available for those individuals at higher risk of tuberculosis. Routine immunisation of all school children at age 10–14 was suspended in September 1999 following manufacturing problems encountered by the sole United Kingdom licensed source, Celltech Medeva. By the autumn school term last year sufficient supplies were available to allow health authorities to restart school immunisations in the London region, as the area with the highest rates and number of tuberculosis cases.

Although stocks are now being delivered, we need to be assured that we have sufficient amounts to restart and support the routine schools programme in all parts of the country without further interruption.

We are currently in the process of writing to all district immunisation co-ordinators to identify how much vaccine will be needed to restart the schools programme. Once this information is known, we will be able to make a judgment on when the programme can resume, and make an announcement.

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