The HSE is urging 11-30 year olds to avail of a free dose of the MMR vaccine due to a significant rise in cases of mumps.
The offer is for anyone who has not had two doses of the MMR vaccine or is unsure of their vaccine status.
The initiative comes as the number of mumps cases rose significantly in the last year.
During 2019 the number of mumps cases continued to rise and we saw 2,762 cases compared with 573 cases the previous year.
To date in 2020, 253 cases have already been notified to the HSE.
Children aged 11-18 and adults aged up to 30 have been particularly affected by the mumps outbreak and it is vital that parents and young adults are aware that the MMR vaccine is the only way to stop the spread of mumps, according to public health specialist at the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Dr Suzanne Cotter.
Parents and young adults are being encouraged to speak with their GP or student health service to avail of the vaccine.
Dr Cotter said: “Vaccination with MMR vaccine is the only way to protect against mumps. The vaccine also protects against measles and rubella. In Ireland, the first MMR dose is given at 12 months of age, and the second dose at 4-5 years of age. Parents must make sure that their children and teenagers are protected against mumps by ensuring they have been immunised with two doses of MMR. A third dose of MMR won’t cause any harm so anyone unsure of whether they have had two doses or not can safely receive the vaccine again.
“Mumps is a highly infectious and dangerous illness which spreads very easily, particularly in homes, crèches, playgroups, camps, schools and universities. It can be a serious illness and can have life changing repercussions in some instances.
“Parents and young adults should speak with their GP or student health service and get the vaccine free of charge for their child or themselves if needed.
“At the moment, 91% of children in Ireland have received one dose of MMR by 24 months of age. While this is a good uptake by international standards it is below the target of 95% to prevent cases of measles and measles outbreaks,” Dr Cotter concluded.