Agreement will see newborns vaccinated against Meningococcal B and Rotavirus

Ireland has the highest rate of invasive meningococcal disease in Europe

Agreement will see newborns vaccinated against Meningococcal B and Rotavirus

File photo of a nurse preparing a syringe | Image: David Cheskin PA Wire/PA Images

Newborn babies are to be vaccinated against meningococcal B and rotavirus by their family doctor from December 1st.

It follows an agreement with the Department of Health and Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

Ireland has the highest rate of invasive meningococcal disease in Europe, and MenB disease is the major cause of these infections which can cause severe illness and death.

While rotavirus disease is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children, and results in 1,000 hospital admissions each year.

Additional resources to GPs will see an extension of the vaccination scheme for newborn babies.

Dr. Padraig McGarry, chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO, said: "The introduction of these additional vaccines is an important public health policy and it is critical that it is resourced appropriately.

"This agreement is good for newborns and their parents, it will improve health outcomes for children and will ensure that the vaccines continue to be delivered in General Practice where the work of GPs has ensured high uptake rates of essential vaccine programmes."

Dr. McGarry added that the IMO hoped that agreement on this issue would set a positive tone for future engagement between the IMO and the Health Service Executive and Department of Health on the negotiation of a new GP contract, which is "urgently needed".

Health Minister Simon Harris said: "I am very pleased that I am in a position to add Meningitis B and Rotavirus to the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme.

"This will make further improvements to public health.

"I am also pleased that I have the support of GPs to deliver it and I want to thank the IMO for their engagement on delivering this programme."

All babies born on, or after, October 1st will receive the vaccines - in addition to the other childhood vaccines that are currently given.

The first doses of these vaccines are given at two months of age, which means that the first babies are due to begin receiving these vaccines from the beginning of December.