Polio - Private Notice Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:48 am on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Lord Kamall Lord Kamall The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 11:48 am, 23rd June 2022

First, I thank the noble Lord for his recognition of one of the challenges of ministerial office, as he will know from his own experience. It is important that we recognise that vaccine-derived polio has the potential to spread, but it is rare and the risk to the public overall is limited. The majority of Londoners are fully protected against polio and will not need to take any more action, but the NHS will begin reaching out to parents of children under five in London who are not up to date. But we are asking for it both ways and for parents to check their records. Let us be clear that the UK is considered to be free from polio, but we recognise a potential risk given our world-leading surveillance of sewage.

On the noble Lord’s specific question, we are quite clear that people must come forward for all vaccines. Sometimes during lockdown people were unable to see a doctor or nurse in person, and the NHS is catching up with that anyway, but the NHS will keep sending the message to try to identify people who have not been vaccinated. At the same time, we are encouraging people to check their records. Let us be clear: we detected this very early in the chain, and it has perhaps come from someone who took an oral vaccine overseas and has excreted it into the system.