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Influenza: Vaccinations

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people in (a) each strategic health authority, (b) each primary care trust and (c) England will be eligible for the free influenza vaccine this winter; and if he will make a statement. (157235)

Data are not collected centrally for each strategic health authority or each primary care trust. We estimate that 14.2 million people are eligible for the influenza vaccine in England.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many influenza vaccination doses (a) are available and (b) will be available this winter to those eligible for the free winter influenza vaccine in each (i) strategic health authority, (ii) primary care trust and (iii) England; and if he will make a statement; (157236)

(2) how many doses of influenza vaccination are available in 2007 for (a) strategic health authorities, (b) primary care trusts and (c) doctors surgeries to purchase this winter; and if he will make a statement.

The UK Vaccine Industry Group has agreed to make over 15 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine available this winter for the United Kingdom. So far, over 4.4 million doses have been delivered. The information is not available by strategic health authority or primary care trust.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of eligible pensioners who receive influenza vaccinations. (158003)

We announced our seasonal influenza campaign on 28 September, incorporating a number of strategies aimed at encouraging people aged 65 years and over to receive their flu immunisation. The campaign incorporates:

national TV advertising;

advertising in national and regional newspapers and magazines, including ethnic media;

advertising on pharmacy bags;

work with voluntary organisations and commercial stakeholders such as the Alzheimer's society, AFTAID, Arthritic Association, British Heart Foundation, Lloyds Pharmacy, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Superdrug and Morrison's pharmacists.

The Chief Medical Officer also wrote to all general practitioners with details of this year's flu vaccination programme in his letter of 30 March 2007. This provides surgeries with a number of months to plan their vaccination programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he plans to issue guidance to NHS trusts on how they should prioritise their staff for receiving a pandemic-specific vaccine in the event of an influenza pandemic. (158462)

The pandemic vaccination strategy will be determined by an assessment of the strength of the virus, and its impact on the population. As this assessment can only take place once the virus has emerged, specific advice on the vaccination of any part of the population, including health care workers, can only be issued at that point.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will issue guidance to employers on the stockpiling of clinical counter-measures for use in an influenza pandemic, with reference to his letter sent to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire, dated 2 October 2007, reference PO00000234688. (158469)

No central guidance has been issued to employers wishing to stockpile clinical countermeasures. Employers who are considering this as part of their business continuity planning should do so in conjunction with their own occupational health advisers. The National Framework for responding to an influenza pandemic includes information in relation to stockpiling and use of clinical countermeasures. Work is also progressing on testing a clinical algorithm/protocol as part of the process for providing access to antivirals.