Avian Influenza: Vaccination

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 20 October 2023.

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Photo of Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what discussions she (a) has had and (b) plans to have with international trading partners on the use of avian influenza vaccinations.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The vaccination of poultry and captive birds against avian influenza, excluding those in licensed zoos in England, is not currently permitted.

While avian influenza vaccination is unlikely to be a viable option for the 2023/24 high risk season, Defra has established a cross Government and industry task force to explore potential for use of vaccination as a preventive measure for avian influenza. Further information can be found at Bird flu (avian influenza) vaccination task force - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The Secretary of State and her officials, including the UK Chief Veterinary Officer, regularly engage with trading partners and international fora like the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) on a range of animal health issues, including vaccination policies.

Any future decisions on avian influenza control measures, including the use of vaccination, will be based upon the latest scientific, ornithological, and veterinary advice. Should UK avian influenza vaccination policy change in future, Defra will work to secure the buy-in of trading partners to ensure UK trade in poultry is not negatively affected.

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