Hundreds of families have demanded the re-introduction of routine tuberculosis jabs in Birmingham schools after new figures revealed a rise in cases to dangerous levels.
A petition by Birmingham City Council member Coun Gwyn Neilly (Lib Dem, Hodge Hill) attracted more than 300 signatures within days of its launch.
She said she planned to send the petition to Downing Street to force the Government to address the spread of the disease.
The West Midlands has the UK’s highest TB rate outside London – with inner-city suburbs reporting rates similar to those of Third World countries. Coun Neilly said: “The Government halted TB jabs to all pupils five years ago but they desperately need to be reintroduced.
“At the moment, children deemed ‘high risk’ whose families are from foreign countries get the jab but everyone needs it because it spreads.”
Birmingham’s public health director Dr Jim McManus has recommended routine vaccinations across the city, improved risk screening and a more preventative approach, which would cost at least £400,000.
Guidelines state that, in areas with over 40 cases per 100,000 people, children should receive a TB jab.
The Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust, which covers Ladywood, Aston, Nechells and Sparkbrook, has reported 99 cases per 100,000.
In Lozells and East Handsworth, the rate was 140 cases per 100,000 and in Aston it was 145.
Birmingham North and East PCT, which includes Washwood Heath, Erdington, Yardley and Kingstanding, put the figure at 43 cases per 100,000.
TB cases across Birmingham and Solihull have increased in the past ten years by 107 per cent, compared to only 57 per cent nationally, Dr McManus said.