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Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 5 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what stock of tetanus immunoglobulin is held (a) centrally, (b) in Iraq and (c) in Afghanistan; (80340)

(2) which naval and military units do not have their required stock of tetanus immunoglobulin.

The Ministry of Defence’s requirement for tetanus immunoglobulin is low. It is only used to treat patients with wounds who have not received the normal tetanus vaccine. Very few such cases arise in our armed forces since MOD aims to ensure that all its personnel have up-to-date tetanus vaccinations prior to deployment. The only people who would need it would therefore be any service personnel who missed their vaccination and any non-UK individuals who are treated in our medical facilities in theatre.

There is a temporary UK national shortage of tetanus immunoglobulin. We do not currently have any centrally held defence stocks in the UK. However, with the exception of designated field hospitals, units are not required to hold tetanus immunoglobulin, although some do at the discretion of individual medical officers. We are not aware of any stock shortfall of tetanus immunoglobulin in the designated field hospitals and we do not expect a shortfall to arise before supplies become available again.

Routine tetanus immunisation is given by the combined low dose diphtheria/tetanus/inactivated polio (Td/IPV) triple booster which is administered at trainee entrant establishments. Personnel who require a further booster dose because they have sustained an injury from which they could be at risk of an acute tetanus infection can also be given the Td/IPV triple booster. Supplies of the Td/IPV triple booster are not affected by the national shortage of immunoglobulin, and there are currently no known shortages in naval or military units.

In light of the national shortage, the MOD has repeated recent Department of Health guidance on tetanus immunoglobulin to defence medical personnel, advising them of the necessary action they will need to take. This will mainly involve ensuring that all personnel have up-to-date tetanus vaccinations.