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Simon Harris calls on TDs to support his motion tackling vaccine 'myths'

Simon Harris has called for cross party support for the motion.

Simon Harris
Simon Harris
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has called for cross party support for a motion which aims to increase the uptake of vaccines in Ireland.

The motion comes after cases of measles in Ireland rose by over 200% between 2017 and 2018 – a trend scientists have blamed on misinformation around the MMR vaccine. 

Concerted campaigns to raise awareness of the safeness and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine have been launched, after uptake rates plummeted due to misinformation around supposed side-effects.

Last September, the HSE confirmed that provisional uptake rate for the HPV vaccine  stood at 70%, an increase of 20 percentage points on the previous year.

Harris previously said he had requested legal advice from the attorney general in relation to making vaccines mandatory. 

His Dáil motion calls on TDs to “champion and advocate for increased uptake of childhood vaccines and HPV across communities”.

It notes that vaccination is “one of the most successful health interventions of all time”.

The motion also states that as a result of “vaccine hesitancy” and reductions in uptake ”outbreaks have occurred in many countries, including Ireland, and children’s health has been adversely affected”.

It calls on the Dáil to support childhood immunisation programmes and actions to strengthen dialogue with citizens.

It also calls for the establishment of a Vaccine Alliance of healthcare workers, policymakers, patient advocates, parents and educators which would “ensure that accurate, evidence-based and consistent messages about vaccination are spread, understood and acted upon”. 

In a statement, Harris said vaccine hesitancy was “one of the greatest threats to public health and the health service is working extremely hard to counter the myths spread about vaccination and increase the uptake rates”.

Harris says the motion so far has the support of Sinn Fein, Labour, the Green Party and Independents4Change.

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

Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

- with reporting from Christina Finn

About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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