Poliomyelitis

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1959.

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Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East 12:00 am, 20th July 1959

asked the Minister of Health what advice he gives to local authorities in areas in which an unusually large outbreak of poliomyelitis occurs.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

Local authorities are advised by their own medical officers of health to whom a medical memorandum was issued in July, 1954, recommending a code of practice on the occurrence of an outbreak of poliomyelitis. My medical officers are always available for consultation and advice.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

I am sure the Minister knows that there has been a serious outbreak of poliomyelitis in Islington. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that statistics show that the risk is very much less in the case of children who have been immunised, even if they have had only two injections, compared with those who have not been immunised? In view of this, will the Minister do what he can to recommend the greatest possible use of immunisation among children?

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

I have noted with regret these cases in Islington. In the early stages of the outbreak, there was a very good response to the vaccination programme in Islington, but I am sorry to say that it has shown signs of falling off. I hope that what the hon. Gentleman has said will encourage the response to pick up again.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Warrington

As immunisation is at the moment limited to certain age groups and expectant mothers, are we to take it from what the Minister has said that, in the event of an outbreak, all contacts, irrespective of age, can be immunised?

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

I am advised about those who should be vaccinated by the Committee presided over by Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, and I follow its recommendations. The Committee has recommended the priority groups at present eligible for vaccination.

Photo of Mr Anthony Kershaw Mr Anthony Kershaw , Stroud

Has my right hon. and learned Friend any figures to show the improvement with regard to poliomyelitis outbreaks since the very large scale inoculations and vaccinations started?

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

I am happy to say that the general incidence this year is

Deaths from respiratory diseases
19381958
TotalAs per cent. of deaths from all causesTotalAs per cent. of deaths from all causes
England and Wales48,22210·160,80811·5
Stoke-on-Trent35811·641513·6
Lancashire6,98910·98,74613·3
Sussex8537·81,5359·9

The "respiratory diseases" include influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia, industrial lung diseases and other relatively uncommon causes of death among respiratory diseases, but do not include tuberculosis or cancer of the lung.