Pandemrix Vaccine: Compensation

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:16 am on 8th March 2017.

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Photo of Nicola Blackwood Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 11:16 am, 8th March 2017

It will start as soon as it can be implemented.

I will also follow up on the point that the hon. Member for Batley and Spen made about Xyrem. The scheme for its supply is due to continue until the personal injury claims are settled, at which point it will be reviewed. I hope that reassures her. I will be happy to look into the issue that she raised about a postcode lottery to try to understand how that situation can be eased.

We do not have a huge amount of time left, so I will bring my remarks to a close. I assure the hon. Lady that I have every sympathy for Sam and others affected by narcolepsy; I have a small amount of understanding about quite how distressing that can be. The hon. Lady should not consider the VDPS in isolation as a means of supporting Sam and others like him. It is part of a much wider package of care and support that is available to people with disabilities, including the NHS, social care and the benefits system. It is important not to leave the debate with the impression that vaccines are dangerous. Vaccine safety is of paramount importance, and with modern technology and stringent manufacturing and control processes, vaccines are the safest they have ever been. I hope that, by the end of the debate, hon. Members will know that the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the Government’s independent expert advisory Commission on Human Medicines keep the safety of all vaccines under review. Serious side effects are, thankfully, very rare.

While it is important to have a scheme such as the VDPS in place—I am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear the views on it of the hon. Lady and of my hon. Friend the Member for York Outer, who is no longer in his place—it is also important to acknowledge that we have a world-class immunisation programme that is the envy of many other countries that are not able to prevent the diseases we do in the UK. Immunisation is a vital way of protecting individuals and the community as a whole from serious diseases. Uptake for UK immunisation programmes is more than 90% of the target population for most childhood vaccinations. Vaccinations save lives, and I strongly encourage families to take them up when offered. I assure the hon. Lady that I have listened to everything she has said and will consider it going forward as the Pandemrix case continues.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended.

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