The Government is being urged to reconsider its policy on vaccinating all schoolchildren for tuberculosis (TB) as rates in Birmingham reach Third World levels.
The city’s Health Scrutiny Committee is writing to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley asking if the city can bring back jabs for all children and vulnerable adults.
It comes after thousands of residents signed three petitions circulating across the city backing the reinstatement of a mass vaccination programme for schoolchildren, which was abandoned by the Government in 2005.
The disease has killed at least 68 people in the city in the past five years including 15-year-old pupil Alina Sarag, from Golden Hillock School in Sparkhill, who died in January.
Coun Deirdre Alden, chairman of Birmingham Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “There’s a lot of concern in Birmingham over TB and a lot of people have signed these petitions so need to send a message to the Government. Birmingham is one of the TB hotspots, maybe they don’t need everyone to be vaccinated in leafy Surrey, but we have very much higher rates.
“Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) is a hot-spot but children mix freely. The levels are so high that we think maybe we need to do the rest of the population in Birmingham.”
TB rates for Heart of Birmingham PCT, which includes Ladywood, Aston, Nechells and Sparkbrook, has reported 99 cases per 100,000 of population.
That is comparable to rates in Africa and India and more than double the 40 cases per 100,000 point at which Department of Health advice suggests the disease is running out of control.
In Lozells and East Handsworth, the rate is 140 cases per 100,000 and in Aston it is 145.
Jim McManus, Birmingham’s joint director of public health said: “The Government has directed its policy because of scientific evidence at the time, but public opinion in Birmingham is saying we are not sure that is right and need a review of the science in Birmingham.”