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Armed Forces: Influenza

Volume 474: debated on Tuesday 1 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 7 January 2008, Official Report, column 24W, on armed forces: influenza, whether the supplies of (a) influenza vaccine, (b) anti-virals and (c) face masks deployed to theatre in the event of an influenza pandemic will also be made available to (i) coalition partners and (ii) local inhabitants; and if he will make a statement. (195256)

For NATO deployments, force protection is a national responsibility. The World Health Organisation is ultimately responsible for the protection of civilian local inhabitants. As with any medical supplies, decisions on their use in specific instances will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account operational and humanitarian factors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department holds stocks of (a) vaccines and (b) anti-virals for use by the armed forces for the treatment of seasonal influenza; and if he will make a statement. (195352)

The Department holds stocks of both vaccines and antivirals for the treatment of seasonal influenza. These will be offered if necessary to specific groups of personnel (such as key workers in the Defence Medical Services), in accordance with the national guidance from the UK Departments of Health.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to paragraph 15 of the Defence Medical Services Department's policy letter of 20 January 2006, entitled “The use of influenza vaccines and anti-virals in the event of an influenza pandemic by the Defence Medical Services”, reference DMSD/13/1/4; whether he has any plans to use anti-virals for prophylaxis before a pandemic is established; and if he will make a statement. (195354)

MOD's policy on the use of vaccines and antivirals with regard to an influenza pandemic follows the Department of Health's national guidelines. For the majority of armed forces personnel there are no plans for prophylactic use, as this is not in accordance with the UK national policy.