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Over 300,000 people to be offered measles catch-up vaccine under new plans

There was a nearly 45-fold increase in measles cases in Europe last year, according to the World Health Organisation.

SOME 310,000 PEOPLE will be eligible for a catch-up measles vaccine under plans being drawn up by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

The Minister is expected to inform cabinet on Tuesday that a catch-up programme will be rolled out because of the public health threat from measles. 

There continues to be an increase in measles cases in the UK and across Europe. However, to date just one case of measles has been confirmed in Ireland this year – this was the first measles death in over 20 years.

Under the new programme, a campaign running over 12-13 weeks will see vaccines offered to a number of groups including:

  • Children (routine and catch-up);
  • Young people up to age 24 years;
  • Healthcare workers;
  • Underserved populations, such as Travellers, Roma, people who are homeless, Refugees and Applicants Seeking Protection and other vulnerable migrants, and those in custodial settings;
  • The next priority group would be those aged 25 to 34, and then also offering of vaccination to those born after 1978. (Those born in Ireland before 1978 are likely to have immunity to measles.)

Since November, a catch-up programme for children up to the age of 10 has been in place, while the second MMR vaccine was brought forward to the first term of the school year to boost the protection of children. 

Under the new catch-up programme immunisation will be delivered mainly by GPs and Occupational Health. HSE Immunisation Teams may also be utilised.

The programme is estimated to cost €4.6m.

There was a nearly 45-fold increase in measles cases in Europe last year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Around 42,200 people were infected with the disease in 2023, compared with 941 during 2022.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious complications, particularly in children under one year of age, pregnant women, and the immunosuppressed.

It typically starts with cold-like symptoms that develop about 10 days after a person gets infected. The person will get a rash a few days later.

The illness usually lasts for seven to 10 days.

Here’s everything else you should know about measles. 

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