HSE Public Health Area A (Cavan, Louth, Meath, Monaghan & North Dublin) are reminding parents and guardians to ensure their child’s routine vaccinations are up to date, including the Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) vaccines.
The most recent data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows a worrying drop in the uptake of childhood vaccines in 2-year-olds. By the time children reach their second birthday they should have completed their Primary Childhood Immunisation Schedule, including 1st dose of MMR vaccine. A decrease was seen across all childhood vaccines in Ireland, with the percentage of 2-year-olds who received one dose of MMR vaccine falling below 90%. Prior to the pandemic period, uptake rates had not dropped below 90% since 2010.
In Area A (Cavan, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and North Dublin), the uptake is even lower than the national rate and significantly lower than the 95% target, which means that many children are not protected from these highly contagious and potentially very dangerous diseases.
o In Louth, approximately 1 in 6 two-year-olds are unvaccinated against measles.
o In Meath, approximately 1 in 8 two-year-olds are unvaccinated against measles.
o In Cavan/Monaghan, approximately 1 in 8 two-year-olds are unvaccinated against measles, and
o In North Dublin, approximately 1 in 8 two-year-olds are unvaccinated against measles.
Measles is an acute, highly contagious infectious disease that can lead to serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and even death. Young children especially those aged under 5 and individuals with underlying immune conditions are particularly at risk. Although it is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age.
Dr Lois O’Connor, Public Health Doctor, HSE Public Health Area A, is urging parents and guardians to make sure their child gets their childhood vaccinations. She said: “Children who have missed their recommended childhood vaccinations during the pandemic are at risk of catching measles. The MMR vaccines can be given at any age if missed out during infancy.”
“The MMR vaccine is included in the national childhood immunisation programme and is a safe and effective vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella infections. To ensure full protection, two doses are administered to babies and young children with the first dose at 12 months from your practice nurse or GP and the second dose when your child is in junior infants as part of the HSE school vaccination programme.”
Dr Kenneth Beatty, Public Health Doctor, HSE Public Health Area A, said; “Ensuring your child is up-to-date with their vaccines is important to protect your child and those around them from these highly contagious infectious diseases.”
Dr Beatty added: “If you are unsure of your child’s vaccine record, contact your local health office. For contact details for your local health office, visit https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/whoweare/lhos.html. If your child has missed a vaccine, speak with your practice nurse, GP or your local health office as a catch-up vaccine schedule can be arranged.”