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January 12 2009 ~ Western Isles: Crofters call for vaccination to be voluntary as it is in the Shetland Islands
The Western Isles petition reads (extract):
... Due to the remoteness the Shetland Islands asked for a derogation and were allowed to vaccinate voluntarily. There is a possibility that we in the Western Isles could also have this choice."The Stornaway Gazette asks Should the Western Isles take part in the bluetongue vaccination programme on a voluntary basis? Replies Jan 12:
72% Yes, 19% No and 9% Don't Know(But it was pointed out that the question was so ambiguously phrased that many who voted "Yes" thought they were voting for vaccination. The results seem now to be reversing.) Vaccination in Scotland against BTV8 has been compulsory since November 3 2008, when Scotland automatically became a Protection Zone. Producers there have until April 30 2009 to vaccinate all cattle and sheep - or face a possible fine of £5000. However, the Shetland Islanders were given the derogation that they "may" vaccinate (see Bluetongue Order 2008 pdf)
The question of the BTV1 strain - just over the Channel in Northern France - remains a worry. Vaccination against both strains is now compulsory in France and all France is now both a BTV8 and BTV1 Protection Zone. New rules would allow the UK to vaccinate against the BTV1 strain without proof that the virus was circulating (The "vaccination without circulation zone" is to be referred to as the Blue Zone in the new, more rational EU rules.) - if there were only BTV1 vaccine available in the UK. As for BTV6, there is still no news of its likely progress nor its source.
Letter published in full in Stornaway Gazette Jan 2009
Dear Sir, Madam,
Please could the wording of this vote be less ambiguous, or is this particular wording to get the 'required' result?
I believe in vaccinating my animals and am glad that is is compulsory, but when I went to vote I'm tempted to put my tick in the 'yes' box - because I strongly believe the Western Isles should vaccinate!
How can we keep infected midges out of our islands when no other country has managed to do so and why would anyone want to buy our unvaccinated animals at the end of the year?
Joyce Ross North Uist