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Salk Vaccine Supplies, Blackburn

Volume 649: debated on Monday 13 November 1961

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asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to remedy the shortage of Salk vaccine in Blackburn.

I understand that Blackburn has recently received all the vaccine that was asked for.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that anxieties have been expressed in the Lancet about the safety of the Sabin vaccine and that these doubts are shared by some medical officers of health and others? Will he see that at least 70 per cent. of the eligible groups receive two doses of Salk vaccine before the new Sabin live vaccine is introduced into the community as a whole? While appreciating that steps have been taken to help Blackburn in the current month, may I ask the Minister to give an assurance that supplies of Salk vaccine in Blackburn and elsewhere will be maintained in future at a level to enable two doses to be given to at least 70 per cent. of the eligible groups?

The hon. Lady's supplementary question relates largely to an entirely different question. What she said is different from the advice my right hon. Friend and I have received from our advisory committee on this subject, but I will certainly do my best to ensure that no local authority is short of Salk.

Is the Minister aware that this is not only a problem for Blackburn but for the whole of the North-West? Is he aware, for instance, that the position in Warrington is that the new inoculations were virtually brought to a standstill? Will he deal with this more urgently, as I mentioned when I requested additional supplies and pointed out that only a quarter of the amount required for Warrington had been sent there? How urgently is he dealing with this, and will he make sure that supplies are sent to areas where there are polio epidemics?

I understand that since the hon. Gentleman wrote to me about Warrington a further supply has been sent.