Bovine Tuberculosis: Vaccination

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 19th April 2022.

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Photo of Anthony Mangnall Anthony Mangnall Conservative, Totnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to extend free TB vaccinations to include all those that work with bovines.

Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Based on the current available evidence, there are no plans to extend free Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccinations to all those who work with bovines. BCG vaccination against tuberculosis (TB) is not usually recommended for people aged over 16 years old, unless the risk of exposure is high. BCG vaccination can be offered to veterinary staff and staff, such as abattoir workers, who handle animals or animal materials which could be infected with TB.

Under these current criteria in the Green Book, a very small subset of farmers may be eligible for the BCG vaccination. Their eligibility for TB vaccination should be based on an individual risk assessment. Those eligible would access the vaccine through a private occupational health provider and may seek further advice from the National Farmers Union. Non-National Health Service providers can charge for this service.

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), all new employees, including farmers, should undergo a pre-employment health assessment, which should include a review of immunisation needs. The COSHH risk assessment will indicate which pathogens staff are exposed to in their workplace, such as bovine TB. Staff considered to be at risk of exposure to pathogens should be offered routine pre-exposure immunisation as appropriate. This decision should also take into account the safety and efficacy of available vaccines. Staff not considered to be at risk need not routinely be offered immunisation, although post-exposure prophylaxis may occasionally be indicated.

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