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Wednesday, 16 August 1972
Page: 129

Senator TURNBULL (TASMANIA) asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

In view of the fact that the National Health and Medical Research Council, in October 1971, considered that there was inadequate evidence that group vaccination has had any significant influence on the incidence in influenza or significant protection on the individual, and that the benefits from immunisation against influenza are doubtful, why has the Government not prevented its own organisation, the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, from advertising suggestively to the contrary.

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

The views of the National Health and Medical Research Council as expressed at its SeventyThird Session in October 1971 were largely con cerned with the value of organised and officially sponsored mass vaccination programmes against influenza.

Although Council considered that the benefits to be derived from such programmes are doubtful, it was of the opinion that the vaccination of certain 'special-risk' groups as a routine procedure each year is probably justified, as there is no currently available alternative procedure.

The 'special-risk' groups referred to by the Council are -

(i)   persons with rheumatic heart disease and/or congestive cardiac failure, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic asthma, chronic hypostatic pulmonary congestion, chronic interstitial pulmonary fibrosis or mucoviscidosis;

(ii)   persons with other serious chronic debilitating diseases; and

(iii)   all other persons aged 65 years and over'. 1 am informed that the indications for the use of influenza vaccine as listed by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in recent advertising literature include certain groups which, in general, equate with the priority groups enumerated in the Council recommendation on this subject. I understand that the literature from the Commonwealth Serum Laboratores also lists some other limited groups, which may reflect the diversity of medical opinion on this particular matter.

The recently issued Commonwealth Serum Laboratories pamphlet 'Flu 72' does not recommend mass influenza vaccination of the Australian community.

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