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HSE offers free MMR shots to combat 'significant' rise in mumps

It follows a sharp increase in the number of cases of the illness last year.

Image: Shutterstock/Tero Vesalainen

A FREE DOSE of the MMR vaccine is being offered to anyone between the ages of 11 and 30 as part of a HSE initiative to counter a sharp rise in mumps cases.

The health service is offering the measure to anyone who has not had two doses of the MMR vaccine, or is unsure of their vaccine status.

It follows what is being described as a “significant” increase in the number of mumps cases, particularly in secondary schools and third level institutions.

More than 2,700 cases of the disease were reported last year, compared with 573 cases in 2018. A further 253 cases have been notified to the HSE so far this year, with almost half of these coming since dozens of cases were reported last week.

Around 91% of children in Ireland have received one dose of MMR by 24 months of age. However, this is below the target of 95% to prevent cases of measles and measles outbreaks.

Dr Suzanne Cotter of the HSE said that parents should make sure that their teenagers and young children are protected against the disease by ensuring they have two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“A third dose of MMR won’t cause any harm so anyone unsure of whether they have had two doses or not can safely receive the vaccine again,” she said.

“Mumps is a highly infectious and dangerous illness which spreads very easily, particularly in homes, crèches, playgroups, camps, schools and universities.

“It can be a serious illness and can have life changing repercussions in some instances.”

Parents and young adults are advised to speak with their GP or student health service and get the vaccine free of charge for their child or themselves if needed.

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