Bluetongue Vaccination: The Big Plan

UK - The UK Bluetongue Vaccination Strategy has been agreed with industry stakeholders using the overriding principle of facilitating the rapid transfer of vaccine into animals as soon as it becomes available.
calendar icon 3 April 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

The vaccine roll-out plan also has to be flexible enough to take into account the changing nature of the disease i.e. moving zones, the various levels of disease risk in the zones, and the timing and availability of the vaccine.

Bearing these factors in mind, it is difficulty to precisely predict the situation we will be in once vaccine becomes available in England. Therefore the following text outlines the principles and considerations that will be used in determining the roll-out of vaccine in England in order to allow for revisions and flexibility in the plan as the situation develops this year.

Key Principles and Considerations

Timing and availability of vaccine

Roll-out of vaccine can primarily only be delivered as and when vaccine is available. Intervet are contracted to provide the 22.5 million doses of vaccine (20 million for use in England only, 2.5 million in Wales only), and they will release the first doses to the UK in May, subject to final batch testing. They expect the May delivery to be 3 million doses, but are confident that they will exceed this commitment, and hope that the delivery in May will reach 5 million doses. The vaccine has to pass rigorous control testing before it can be released for use. Intervet will be in a position towards the end of April to provide updates every week on the release of vaccine. The remainder of the doses are expected to be received in June, July and August.

Depending on yields during the production process, it is possible that more (or less) vaccine could be delivered before these dates. Therefore the plan is flexible in order to be prepared to roll-out vaccine earlier or later if that is the case.

Administrative demarcation of vaccine roll-out

Under EU law, vaccination can only be carried out in a Protection Zone, however, roll-out of vaccine will be on a County by County basis. Given the unpredictability of the disease situation, it is possible the current zones may have expanded, or they may even be one single Restricted Zone covering the whole of England by early summer. This therefore offers an unreliable means by which to demarcate vaccine availability now or later in the year. Counties are easily recognisable and communicable boundary markers, by which livestock keepers and veterinarians can simply identify when vaccine may be available or sold.

Decision making process and criteria for prioritising vaccine roll-out

Given the medium/high risk that the disease situation and Restricted Zones may change before vaccine becomes available, it is a risk to define the vaccine roll-out plan for the whole year now purely based on the current disease situation.

Therefore a process for defining a priority list for counties to be vaccinated will be used. The priority list will be regularly reviewed by Defra, Bluetongue Experts and the Core Industry Group in the period leading up to the first vaccine becoming available, and will continue to be reviewed throughout the year. This will be based on epidemiological evidence and veterinary risk at the time of each assessment, broadly using the following criteria to aid the assessment.

Further Reading

       - You can visit our Bluetongue information page by clicking here.

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