UNICEF has issued a strong pro-vaccine warning amid revelations that measles cases have surged by 244% in Ireland in the past year.
The HSE has recorded 21 cases of the infectious disease so far in 2019. Seven cases were confirmed in the Donegal area in February, with additional suspect cases under investigation.
UNICEF has warned today that global cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels. Cases of measles increased in 98 countries around the world, with cases in Ireland growing from 25 in 2017 to 86 in 2018.
New cases cropping up in countries which had previously been declared measles-free has led to further calls on parents and governments to ensure children are vaccinated.
Peter Power, UNICEF Ireland’s Executive Director said: “This is a wake-up call. We have a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease – a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades.”
“These cases haven’t happened overnight. Just as the serious outbreaks we are seeing today took hold in 2018, lack of action today will have disastrous consequences for children tomorrow.”
Mr Power said that more must be done to combat misinformation which is preventing every child getting vaccinated.
The HSE has said the number of children getting MMR vaccines has dropped slightly in recent years. A statement from the organisation said: “As soon as vaccination rates fall, old diseases re-emerge. This is why measles outbreaks are occurring in Ireland and across Europe.”
The HSE said the best way to prevent measles infection is with 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose of the MMR is usually given to children at 12 months of age, with a second dose given at 4-5 years of age.
Anyone born since 1978 who is unsure if they have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine, such as MMR, should speak with their GP.