Skip to main content

Diphtheria (Immunisation)

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Minister of Health how many immunised children under five years of age and how many over that age were there in the country at the end of 1941; how many at 30th June, 1942, and how many at 31st December, 1942; what were the ages of the diphtheria cases in 1941 and in each half-year of 1942, distinguishing between immunised and unimmunised; and what were the ages of the fatal cases of diphtheria, immunised and unimmunised, in 1942?

The numbers of children immunised against diphtheria under local authority arrangements in England and Wales up to 31st December, 1941, were approximately 547,000 under five and 1,818,000 between the ages of five and 15. The corresponding figures at 30th June, 1942, were 725,000 and 2,114,000; and at 31st December, 1942, 1,150,000 and 2,598,000. To obtain the particulars referred to in the last two parts of the Question would necessitate a special return from all local authorities which I should not be justified in requiring them to make in view of the labour which it would involve.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that only 45 cases of diphtheria were registered in the administrative county of Northampton in 1942; what percentage of children under five years of age had been immunised at the end of 1941 and what percentage over that age; and how many children were immunised in the county in each month of 1942 at ages under five and over five?

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." With regard to the other parts, I regret that I am not able to give the particulars asked for. Percentage rates based on the child population of particular localities cannot be precisely calculated during war-time fluctuations of population and to ascertain the details asked for in the last part of the Question would involve all local authorities in the county in substantial labour which I should not feel justified in asking them to undertake.

asked the Minister of Health how many of the notified cases of diphtheria in 1942 were in children under five years of age; how many from five to 15 years of age and how many over 15 years of age?

The only information available to me concerns children under 15 years of age in total, among whom returns received from local authorities show that the number of notifications of diphtheria during 1942 in England and Wales was approximately 28,500, of which about 87 per cent. were cases of non-immunised children.

asked the Minister of Health whether children who take diphtheria after the first inoculation are put into the unimmunised class in the records sent to the Ministry by medical officers of health?

For the purpose of returns regarding immunisation of children against diphtheria local authorities are asked to show in how many of the cases of diphtheria notified in children under 15 the child is known to have completed the course of immunisation not less than 12 weeks before the onset of the disease. Children not satisfying these conditions are considered as unimmunised.