Irish people still have “strong confidence” in vaccines despite the country’s low immunisation rates for measles, according to the HSE.
A new report from The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC] has said Ireland has the lowest immunisation rates for measles in Western Europe.
The ECDC has warned that there is a threat of outbreaks in Ireland due to the low uptake.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, HSE National Immunisation Office Director Dr Lucy Jessop said that after the pandemic, “parents might have been a little bit nervous taking children out to health services to be vaccinated.”
“We had a pretty good uptake before the pandemic, and obviously health services were disrupted for quite some time,” she said.
“Now is the time we're advising parents if they didn’t get their baby vaccinated – or indeed their children vaccinated – now is the time to come forward.”
‘Measles, mumps and rubella’
Dr Jessop said the most important vaccine for young children is the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
“Measles is the one that can be really serious,” she said. “You can get a rash and a high fever, a cough and a running nose.”
“It can have serious complications like pneumonia, seizures and swelling of the brain (encephalitis).
“We did have an outbreak in Dublin in 2000 and several hundred children were infected, and very sadly three children died.”
Dr Jessop said she does not think anti-vaccine rhetoric is behind the fall in immunisation numbers.
“I think people still have strong confidence in the routine of vaccines that we use for children,” she said.
“It’s more just an issue of remembering to come forward after Covid. We really want to just remind people it’s so important.
“UNICEF actually did another report and confidence in the parents of young children hasn’t really fallen in the routine vaccines."
'European Immunisation Week'
The UNICEF report states that “despite the falls, overall support for vaccines remains relatively strong. In almost half the 55 countries studied more than 80 per cent of respondents perceived vaccines as important for children.”
The report also said that "uncertainty about the response to the pandemic, growing access to misleading information, declining trust in expertise, and political polarisation" suggest the threat of vaccine hesitancy may be growing.
European Immunisation Week runs from 23-29 April 2023 to raise awareness of the importance of immunisation in preventing diseases and protecting life.
This year’s theme is “The Big Catch-Up”. It reminds parents to catch up on any vaccines they may have missed out on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can listen back here.