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'It's not a coincidence': HSE expert links latest mumps outbreak to discredited study of MMR vaccine

The HSE is still trying to determine how many people have been affected by the outbreak.

Image: Shutterstock/alessandro guerriero

A HSE EXPERT has suggested an outbreak of mumps in the Western region is connected to a discredited study of the MMR vaccine published in the 1990s.

Yesterday it emerged that 45 people between the ages of 15 and 29 were diagnosed with the disease in the past seven weeks in the region. 

HSE public health specialist Dr Mark O’Loughlin revealed that the service was still trying to determine how many people have been affected by the latest outbreak.

Speaking to Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1, he said that a 95% MMR vaccination rate had never been achieved in the west.

“This would account for why we’re seeing so many vulnerable adults and adolescents in this region, and why [those affected] may be susceptible to a mumps infection,” he said.

O’Loughlin said the drop-off rate in the uptake of the vaccine, which is administered to schoolchildren, in the early 2000s and the age of those affected by the outbreak now was “not a coincidence”.

The HSE has previously said that immunisation through the MMR vaccine is the best protection against mumps, with those who have not had two doses of it urged to seek additional vaccines.

“The HSE are widely recommending that people, particularly in [the 15-29 age group], do avail of both vaccinations,” O’Loughlin added.

“And if they’re not up to date with their vaccinations, we’re advising them to get tested to see if they are immune and to make sure they’re absolutely certain they have both.”

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