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Avian Influenza: Vaccination

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken by his Department to ensure that sufficient vaccines are available in the UK should there be a widespread outbreak of avian influenza; and how many vaccines are necessary. (177725)

As part of our contingency planning for an avian influenza outbreak, and in view of uncertainties in the nature and spread of the virus, we maintain a supply of 10 million doses of vaccine. Five million doses of vaccine are stored in the UK and a further five million doses are kept on a supply contract in Spain, although the contract states that the vaccine must be delivered to the UK within seven days if required. This vaccine could be used against both H5 and H7 strains of the virus, should a veterinary risk assessment indicate it is necessary.

Currently, only birds in English zoos are permitted to be vaccinated because of their vital role in global conservation. We have also produced a delivery plan, available on the DEFRA website, which outlines guidelines for delivering a vaccination programme in birds outside zoos and is adaptable to a range of different epidemiological circumstances which would determine how many doses of vaccine were needed depending on the area to be vaccinated. This plan, which has been developed and agreed with stakeholders, would have to be approved by the European Commission in the event of a decision to vaccinate.