The HSE in Donegal has pleaded with parents to have their children vaccinated.
The plea comes as part of European Immunisation Week which they say is an opportunity to celebrate vaccines in the fight against vaccine-preventable disease.
It is estimated that more than 3 million lives are saved each year because of vaccination.
The plea comes following an outbreak of both mumps and measles in Donegal and the north-west.
A spokesperson said we had not seen diseases like measles in Donegal, Sligo or Leitrim for a number of years, because 95% of children were vaccinated against them.
“Last year, the uptake of childhood vaccinations dropped slightly in Donegal and this resulted in an outbreak of measles in January this year.
“There is also an ongoing mumps outbreak across Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. The HSE has been notified of 116 cases so far. As soon as vaccination rates fall, diseases like measles and mumps return.
“Fortunately, the majority of people in Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim are protecting their children with vaccination. The most recent figures for 2018 show that 90% of children in Donegal received the MMR and 93% of children in Sligo and Leitrim received it.
“However, over 95% of children need to be vaccinated with the MMR in order to prevent the spread of measles in our community. This is the goal for 2019, as it is really important for ‘herd immunity’.
“In this way, we can protect newborns and vulnerable children, including those with cancer or immune problems who can’t get vaccinated, from coming in contact with measles and other diseases like meningitis.”
This year European Immunisation Week runs from 24th-30th April.
The goal is to raise awareness of the benefits of vaccination and to celebrate the ‘vaccine heroes’ who contribute to protecting lives through vaccination.
Vaccine heroes include health workers who administer vaccines, parents who choose vaccination for their children, and everyone who promotes vaccination. Sadly, we lost one of our own vaccine heroes this year when Laura Brennan, a 26-year-old cervical cancer sufferer, died of her disease in March.
Before her death, she campaigned tirelessly to provide young women and their families with the right information on the HPV vaccine, so that they could be protected from cervical cancer in the future.
“Every parent wants to protect their child and do what’s right for them. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do, now that there is so much false and misleading information on the internet and social media when it comes to vaccination,’ says Dr Laura Heavey, Specialist Registrar in Public Health Medicine in HSE North West,
She added “I would really encourage parents to look for information in the right places. Two good sources of reliable, evidence-based information are www.immunisation.ie and the Vaccine Knowledge Project at http://vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk/. Essentially all of the vaccines on the infant, child and adolescent schedule in Ireland are backed up with years of data on their safety.”
Another goal for 2019 is to continue to increase the uptake of the HPV vaccine in teenagers.
In 2018, 70% of teenage girls in Ireland got the vaccine. In Scotland, where HPV vaccination started over 10 years ago and 90% of teenage girls get the HPV vaccine, researchers have found that the vaccine has nearly wiped out cases of cervical pre-cancer in young women.
“We want to see as many Irish teenagers as possible getting vaccinated in 2019, so that we can see those same results here. This year, the vaccine will also be offered to teenage boys. If all our young people receive the vaccine, cervical cancer could be eliminated in Ireland in the future,” said the HSE spokesperson.Tags: