Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has been urged to ensure tuberculosis jabs are offered to more youngsters across Birmingham, in a bid to halt the spread of the disease.
City MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) has written to Mr Lansley demanding action after Birmingham’s public health director, Dr Jim McManus, warned more vaccinations were needed.
The MP said all children at schools where a significant number of pupils came from Asian or African backgrounds should receive the jab.
At the moment, vaccinations are supposed to be provided for youngsters who come from parts of the world with a high incidence of TB, or whose parents or grandparents come from such countries. In practice, this means children whose families come from Asia or Africa.
But Mr Hemming wants their classmates all to be offered the vaccination as well.
And he urged Mr Lansley to consider going further and offering routine vaccinations in parts of the city. The Department of Health should carry out “urgent work” to see exactly what was needed, Mr Hemming said.
He wrote the letter after Dr McManus published a report warning that the number of TB cases in Birmingham “is cause for concern”.
Government guidelines state that vaccinations should be offered to infants in communities where the number of TB cases is at least 40 per 100,00 residents.
But Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust, which covers Ladywood, Aston, Nechells and Sparkbrook, reported 264 cases in 2009, 99 cases per 100,000 people, while Birmingham North and East PCT, which includes Washwood Heath, Erdington, Yardley and Kingstanding, put the figure at 43 cases per 100,000.
Despite this, vaccinations are not being offered as standard in these areas.
TB cases across Birmingham and Solihull have increased in the past ten years by 107 per cent, compared to only 57 per cent nationally.
Mr Hemming said: “Tuberculosis is very hard to catch. it is not a disease that is passed on easily, but I do want the Secretary of State to look at this.”
A petition by Birmingham councillor Coun Gwyn Neilly (Lib Dem, Hodge Hill) calling for more vaccinations 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.