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HSE: Complacency over vaccines could cause death in Ireland

The HSE issued the warning this morning following a spate of deaths as a result of a measles outbreak in Europe.

Image: Shutterstock/stanislave

COMPLACENCY OVER VACCINES could cause death in Ireland, the Health Service Executive has warned.

The HSE issued the warning this morning following a spate of deaths as a result of a measles outbreak in Europe.

It said that there had been a measles outbreak in Romania, with 4,000 cases and 18 deaths reported there in the last six months.

Dr Brenda Corcoran, national immunisation officer with the health body, said that outbreaks had also occurred in a number of other European countries recently.

“Other countries with recent measles outbreaks include, Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Belgium. An outbreak involving 40 cases occurred in Ireland as recently as 2016,” said Corcoran.

Corcoran said that measles was one of the most infectious diseases, and the only way to properly defend against it was for a person to receive the MMR vaccine.

“Two doses of MMR vaccine (at 12 months and 4-5 years of age) are required to be fully vaccinated,” said Corcoran.

“While uptake in Ireland has remained steady at around 92%, we need to increase uptake rates to the target of 95% to make sure that measles does not circulate here.

This is important for everybody but is particularly vital to protect young babies as they cannot receive the MMR vaccine until they are 12 months old so they are vulnerable to complications, including death if they are exposed to measles infection.


Corcoran said that Ireland had a good uptake rate for vaccines, but that it was important not to “let complacency creep in”.

Corcoran pointed to a recent fall in the uptake of the HPV vaccine which is administered to girls in secondary school. She put this down to “unsubstantiated safety concerns”.

“This serves as a reminder that ongoing efforts are required to reach and maintain high vaccine uptake levels,” said Corcoran.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland last week passed a motion asking for a review of the HPV vaccine programmes in schools.

The HSE’s warning comes at the beginning of European Immunisation Week. The theme for the week is “Vaccines Work”.

Read: ‘Four doctors told me this would kill me’: The devastating effect HPV can have on men and women

Read: As HPV-linked cancers increase, should boys get the HPV vaccine?

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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