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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 27 October 2020

Numbers continuing to rise in Limerick measles outbreak as doctors urge vaccinations

The HSE is offering the vaccine for free in Limerick.

Image: Shutterstock/Lolostock

THE HSE HAS said that the numbers of people contracting measles due to the recent outbreak in Limerick continues to rise.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, HSE public health specialist Dr Rose Fitzgerald expressed her concerns at the recent outbreak.

She said that it is likely numbers may continue to increase if people remain unvaccinated.

“We know that where we get the introduction of measles infection in a community where there’s low uptake of the MMR vaccine, we will get further cases,” Dr Fitzgerald said.

She said the disease is very infectious, and that by the time someone is diagnosed they could have passed it on already.

She said: “[The] only way to stop the outbreak is to have a very high uptake of the MMR vaccine. You need to have herd immunity, where 95% of the population are immune.”

As uptake rates range between 90% and 94%, this effect of making the whole population become immune from a 95% uptake rate is not present in this case.

Dr Fitzgerald added that adults are also at risk due to the measles outbreak.

Those born prior to 1978 tend to be immune due to natural infection with measles. Those who are under 40, who’ve not had the vaccine could become infected. It’s those adults in contact with young children who’d be most at risk.

She said that the HSE has run two clinics in Limerick already, and that another one was planned for next Wednesday.

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Earlier this week, the HSE’S Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) had confirmed that 12 cases had been diagnosed as a result of the ongoing outbreak.

The HPSC said the best protection against measles is to be fully vaccinated with two doses of the MMR  vaccine. The HSE is offering free MMR vaccine clinics in Limerick to deal with the outbreak.

The HPSC says that if you have symptoms suggestive of measles you should stay at home, not go to school or work and phone your GP and explain that you may have measles.

People who have not been fully vaccinated with MMR vaccine or have not had measles in the past are at high risk of getting measles if exposed.

The people most at risk of catching measles are those who are not fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine, such as babies younger than 12 months who are too young to be vaccinated, and those with weakened immune systems.

With reporting from Aoife Barry

Read: 11 cases confirmed in measles outbreak across Limerick and Dublin

Read: Free vaccine offered as Limerick measles outbreak worsens

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Sean Murray

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