My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the new triple vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella will be introduced.
My Lords, our intention is to add this combined vaccination to the childhood immunisation programme in approximately a year's time. It will be administered in place of and at the same time as the present vaccination against measles in the second year of life. The exact date will be announced as soon as possible.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply, but do the Government have plans for the elimination of the annual epidemic of measles? Do they recognise that that requires an inoculation rate of over 90 per cent., which has already been achieved in Sweden and the United States?
My Lords, the present uptake for measles vaccine is 68 per cent. in England and Wales. We are making every effort to increase the uptake. I am aware of the situation in Sweden and the United States with the triple vaccine. We hope that it will be repeated here.
My Lords, does my noble friend recall that during a debate on child health services on 28th October in your Lordships' House the same recommendation was made by Professor Graham of Great Ormond Street Hospital?
Yes, my Lords, I remember that.
My Lords, I also remember it. The figures given by the Minister showed the relatively low uptake of vaccination against pertussis compared with vaccination against measles. The problem has existed with successive governments. Bearing that in mind, in a year's time when the new triple vaccine is available will there be a major publicity campaign to persuade the public to take the triple vaccine, which will therefore greatly increase the take-up of vaccine against whooping cough?
Yes, my Lords, I expect there will be. At the moment all district health authorities have medical officers responsible for immunisation purposes. I shall bring this matter to their attention in a speech that I am due to deliver to them next week.
My Lords, will the Government adopt the UNICEF objective of having every child in the world immunised against measles? Will they do everything they can to achieve that?
My Lords, clearly the noble Lord listened to the wireless this morning when the noble Baroness, Lady Ewart-Biggs, spoke. We are obviously extremely keen that as soon as possible this disease should no longer exist in the world. One of the ways in which we shall achieve its elimination in this country is to increase the uptake of immunisation.