Complacency in relation to vaccines could cause deaths in Ireland as large measles outbreaks and related deaths take place in Europe, warned the HSE today, Monday April 24th.
Many European countries are reporting measles outbreaks - over 4000 cases and 18 measles related deaths have been reported in Romania in the past six months, according to the Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office, Dr Brenda Corcoran.
“Other countries with recent measles outbreaks include, Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Belgium. An outbreak involving 40 cases occurred in Ireland as recently as 2016.
“Measles is one of the most infectious diseases. It is spread by coughing and sneezing, and by close contact with an infected individual. With today’s travel patterns, no person or country is beyond the reach of the measles virus.
“The only protection against measles is the MMR vaccine. Two doses of MMR vaccine (at 12 months and 4-5 years of age) are required to be fully vaccinated. While uptake in Ireland has remained steady at around 92%, we need to increase uptake rates to the target of 95% to make sure that measles does not circulate here. This is important for everybody but is particularly vital to protect young babies as they cannot receive the MMR vaccine until they are 12 months old so they are vulnerable to complications, including death if they are exposed to measles infection.
“MMR vaccine along with many other vaccines saves lives and protects against serious illness. Due to good vaccine uptake, we have thankfully not seen outbreaks of other infectious diseases in Ireland that we witnessed in the past but we must not let complacency creep in. We have seen a recent fall in the uptake of HPV vaccine because of unsubstantiated safety concerns. This serves as a reminder that on-going efforts are required to reach and maintain high vaccine uptake levels. The theme for this year’s European Immunisation Week is “Vaccines Work” and we must continue to remind ourselves that vaccines are a simple, effective and safe way to save lives and prevent serious illness”, said Dr Corcoran.
For further information visit www.immunisation.ie.