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Simon Harris has asked the Attorney General to look at mandatory vaccinations

Earlier this week, it was announced that Ireland had experienced a 204% increase in cases of measles.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Simon Harris has requested legal advice in relation to making vaccinations mandatory.

Cases of measles increased in 98 countries around the world from 2017 to 2018, with cases in Ireland growing by more than 200%, from 25 in 2017 to 86 in 2018.

Measles are incredibly contagious, meaning the disease can spread quickly if not enough of the population is vaccinated. In some cases, it can be deadly.

Harris said at a press conference today that he has written to the Attorney General Seamus Wolfe “to formally seek his legal advice in relation to the issue of vaccination”.

I do feel very strongly about it, I do think there’s something irresponsible, and that is against the public good sending an unvaccinated child to a public school or to a creche or into a public place where they can make other children sick – particularly young babies who are too young to get vaccinated.

But he added that there was “more to this than just that”, which was why he had asked for the Attorney General’s advice. Harris has also asked his Department of Health officials to look at what other countries have done.

Scaremongering and misinformation on social media has led to a dramatic drop off in the uptake rate of vaccines including the MMR and the HPV vaccines. The HSE launched a campaign to fight back against the disinformation on social media in relation to the HPV vaccine, which led to an increase in the uptake rate.

Harris said today that there was a need to “push back against the absolute nonsense that is put out by some often on social media in relation to social media. Vaccinations work”.

He said that there was also a responsibility on politicians and public representatives to clarify whether they support vaccinations:

It’s time we called out our politicians in relation to this question. I want to know does every politician in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann support the Child Immunisation Programme and support the HPV vaccine. 

He said that he would write to public representatives next week to ask them to publicly support vaccinations as part of the attempt to fight back against disinformation.

You can learn more about why cases of measles are spreading in Ireland and worldwide in this piece here and in our Explainer podcast:

The Explainer / SoundCloud

- with reporting from Christina Finn

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