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26th march 2009

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of livestock farmers in each region who have vaccinated their livestock against bluetongue disease; and if he will make a statement. [263902]

Jane Kennedy: Vaccination in England and Wales for BTV8 is voluntary. This approach gives farmers the opportunity to judge for themselves the benefits of vaccinating. Experience in 2008 suggests that a majority of farmers do see the benefits of vaccination. A voluntary programme therefore enables these farmers to protect their livestock at the minimum possible cost.

We monitor uptake through sales data, farmers are not required to notify us of vaccination due to the additional burdens and costs this would involve. During 2008 overall level of uptake across England was 60 per cent., or 16 million doses sold.

26 Mar 2009 : Column 585W
Region Percentage uptake( 1)

South of England


South East


South West


East Midlands


West Midlands


Yorkshire and the Humber


North West


North East


(1) Approximately, according to sales data.

Vaccination played a vital role in keeping us free from circulating BTV8 disease last year. If adequate vaccination levels are not reached this year, and BTV8 is reintroduced, the disease will spread to unvaccinated animals. The disease is still present and circulating in neighbouring EU member states. Farmers and livestock keepers should not become complacent and should vaccinate their animals for BTV8 as soon as possible.