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Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 24 March, 2019
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Lifesaving jab for children in Northern Ireland - but not the Republic (yet)

Ireland has the highest incidence of Meningitis B disease in Europe.

Image: Vaccination via Shutterstock

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT is being urged to follow in the UK’s footsteps and introduce the Meningitis B vaccine for children.

It was announced that the UK is to add the vaccine to the childhood immunisation programme, meaning that children in Northern Ireland will be able to avail of it.

But that means that children in the Republic of Ireland could potentially not be covered by the vaccine against the deadly disease, unless the government brings in new measures.

The group ACT for Meningitis are now calling on the Irish Government to implement the vaccine before “we are left with a situation where children in the North will be protected from Meningitis B, while children in the Republic will be left vulnerable to the life threatening disease”.

Health

Siobhán Carroll, CEO of ACT for Meningitis said that while they welcome the news from the UK:

We need this vaccine to be made available as soon as possible to all our children. We cannot end up in a situation where children in the Ireland are left defenceless against this devastating disease.

Ireland has the highest incidence of Meningitis B disease in Europe.

ACT said that up to 10 per cent of people affected will die and 1 in 5 are left with lifelong complications, including brain damage, amputations and hearing loss.

In a five-week period this year, there were seven confirmed cases of Meningitis B across Ireland.

Two were reported in a crèche in Co Cavan, another in a crèche in Westmeath, and there were additional unrelated cases in Dublin, Limerick, Sligo and Waterford.

Advisory committee

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is due to meet on Monday, 24 March.

ACT for Meningitis said it is “confident” that NIAC will “make the right decision” on the vaccine.

The drug, Bexsero is the result of more than 20 years of pioneering research, said its manufacturer Novartis.

Read: Warning issued after children at Cavan creche diagnosed with meningitis>

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