Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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First batch of Bluetongue vaccine delivered

First batch of Bluetongue vaccine delivered

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref : 119/08) issued by The Government News Network on 30 April 2008

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn today announced that the first batch of Bluetongue vaccine, ordered from Intervet last year, is being released to wholesalers and is ready for distribution to the Protection Zones in England.

The first batch of one million doses of the vaccine is now available in 20-dose bottles. A larger batch of up to two million doses, produced in 50-dose bottles, is expected to follow within a few days. The vaccine will require one dose in sheep and two doses, given three weeks apart, in cattle.

Hilary Benn said, "We have worked very closely with a core group of industry experts throughout this process, and I am very pleased with the rapid progress that Intervet has made to develop and produce this new vaccine ahead of schedule and in a very tight timescale.

"The success of our control and vaccination strategy will ultimately depend on the industry itself, and I strongly support the industry-led campaign to promote vaccination. The message to animal keepers is clear: 'Don't hesitate, vaccinate'".

Under EU law, vaccination is only allowed in a Protection Zone - a designated area with restrictions in place to prevent an outbreak spreading. The Bluetongue vaccination plan sets out how vaccination will be rolled out and the Protection Zone expanded county by county across England, taking into account the availability of vaccine and the level of disease risk.

In line with the principles set out in the roll-out plan, the first two batches of vaccine will, according to the release schedule detailed above, be made available to livestock keepers in the Protection Zones. As soon as further batches of vaccine are delivered, vaccine will be rolled out to the rest of the counties in the second priority phase for vaccination, before progressing more broadly across England county by county. Further batches of vaccine will be delivered by Intervet at regular intervals over the summer.

Alick Simmons, Acting Chief Veterinary Officer, said

"Vaccination offers the only realistic prospect of controlling Bluetongue. The release of the first batches of vaccine is very good news. However, supplies will build up over the summer and so I want to encourage farmers and veterinarians to order and use the vaccine responsibly: vaccine can only be obtained if it is intended for immediate use in the priority areas. This will help maximise take up and minimise the risk of the disease increasing in prevalence and range during 2008".

Notes to Editors

1. Further information about Bluetongue vaccination is available on the Defra website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable/bluetongue/control/vaccination/index.htm

2. Vaccination will be rolled out in line with the strategy for rolling out vaccination across England, which can be found on the Defra website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable/bluetongue/control/vaccination/vaccination-rolloutplan.htm

Under EU law, vaccination can only be carried out in a Protection Zone. As vaccine is delivered and once vaccination is progressing across the Protection Zone, the intention is to extend or modify the Zone on a county by county basis in order to permit further vaccination. The strategy has been developed and agreed with the core group of industry stakeholders. It is designed to be flexible, taking into account the changing nature of the disease, such as moving zones, the varying levels of disease risk in the zones and the availability of vaccine.

3. The Protection Zones have been identified as priorities for vaccination. Livestock keepers in these areas will be allowed to purchase vaccine through their private vets. Vaccination will then be rolled out by county, in line with further batches of vaccine which Intervet will be delivering until the end of August.

4. Intervet UK Ltd, a part of Schering-Plough, an animal health company, is based in Milton Keynes. For more information visit the following websites: http://www.intervet.co.uk and http://www.future-of-vaccination.co.uk.

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