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Thursday, 11 October 1956

Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The position is that . when the poliomyelitis vaccination campaign was commenced a programme was laid down based on a certain monthly production of vaccine, and an allotment to each of the States. This programme was arranged by the Poliomyelitis Committee and the National Health and Medical Research Council on which all States are represented, so that every State knew from the start what its allotment would be and at what rate it would receive supplies of vaccine. The aim is to use virtually all the monthly production because it would not be sound practice to retain vaccine in a sort of reserve because of the danger that it might deteriorate and lose some of its potency. Therefore, it is not possible at this stage to make any major alteration in the rate of issuing vaccine to the States. The original programme was arranged in relation to the amount of vaccine available and the administrative abilities of the States to give the vaccine to recipients. This, in fact, provides a very high rate of giving the vaccine, a rate ahead of any other country carrying out a largescale programme, so that nobody should think that vaccination in Australia is a slow process; in fact it is being done rapidly. If any State now wishes to alter its administrative arrangement, either because it can give the vaccine more rapidly than was at first thought possible or for any other reason, it is not easy to re-adjust the programme. In fact it would be possible to do so in any major way only by taking vaccine from other States if they were not using their full allotment. At present, all States are using their full allotment. So, while it is true that a request has been received from the Government of Western Australia by the Department of Health for more supplies of vaccine, the department can comply with the request only in relation to the supplies that are available and can allot to the Government of Western Australia a major increase of its supply only by withdrawing some vaccine from other States. The department is examining the request of the Government of Western Australia, but it should not be thought that this is a matter in which the rate of issuing that was at first laid down can be rapidly or easily varied.

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