DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn announced plans to create a vaccine bank holding between 10 and 20 million doses of vaccine on Thursday (1 November).
A vaccine for the strain affecting livestock in Britain is not yet available, but several companies have vaccines in development and are expected to be available next in the summer of 2008.
In keeping with the principles set out in the Bluetongue Control Strategy, which was developed in partnership with the farming industry, livestock keepers will be offered the opportunity to purchase vaccine from the bank.
Mr Benn said: “Whilst we are at the early stages of this outbreak, it is sensible for us to plan ahead and tender for a vaccine bank given the potential benefits vaccination could provide in managing this disease should it re-appear next year.
“I am sure the benefits of vaccination will make real economic sense to many farmers”
“We hope this tendering process will reassure the farming industry that we are committed to having a vaccine supply ready as soon as a vaccine becomes available. We will have a vaccine bank that farmers will be able to purchase from and I am sure the benefits of vaccination will make real economic sense to many farmers.”
Further discussions are underway with scientific experts on bluetongue, representatives of the farming industry and others on how a vaccination programme could work.
Discussions are also continuing on possible approaches to vaccination with the European Commission and other Member States affected by Bluetongue.
Up until the 31 October 2007 there were 60 confirmed premises affected by bluetongue in Great Britain.