A NATIONAL VACCINATION register should be set up in order to collate vital information that could help during outbreaks of infectious diseases, according to the Irish Patients Association (IPA).
The call follows the deaths of six elderly residents from influenza type A at the Nazareth House private care facility in Buncrana, Co Donegal. A total of 27 residents were affected by the outbreak which began on 22 March but was not reported to the HSE until 1 April – after five patients had already died.
Yesterday, the HSE confirmed that 11 people at the home are still suffering from respiratory symptoms attributed to influenza.
Two of the six people who died had not received a flu vaccine over the winter period.
The IPA called on the Minister for Health James Reilly to set up a national vaccination register, as well as a serious incident review body that could investigate events like those at Nazareth House. The organisation said that, in times of emergency or public health concerns, a national vaccination register could provide real time feedback – whereas the only existing source of information was a “not fit for purpose” accounting system.
The IPA also urged all healthcare workers and visitors to nursing homes or hospitals to ensure that they are vaccinated against influenza.
In the meantime, the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) has confirmed that it is to investigate the events at Narareth House – with particular focus on:
- Why there was a delay in the authorities being informed about the outbreak
- Why a new resident was admitted during the outbreak
- Why healthy residents were not separated from those who had fallen ill
At a European level, concerns have been raised about the current strain of influenza type A: the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) recently reported that the strain circulating in the Northern Hemisphere had changed slightly and is an “imperfect fit” with the corresponding component of the seasonal influenza vaccine.