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Virus which is the most common causes of gastroenteritis in children drops by 72% since vaccine rollout

Rotavirus disease is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children.

Image: Shutterstock/FamVeld

THE INCIDENCES OF Rotavirus disease – one of the most common viral infections in children in Ireland – has fallen by 72% since the introduction of the vaccine in 2016.

Speaking at HSE’s National Immunisation Conference, Health Minister Simon Harris said figures from the HSE’s immunisation office show that the number of cases have fallen from 2,305 in 2017 to 636 in 2018. 

Rotavirus disease is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children and results in 1,000 hospital admissions each year.

The government expanded the childhood vaccination scheme to include Meningococcal B/MenB and Rotavirus three years ago. The first doses of these vaccines are given when babies are two months of age.

Speaking at the HSE’s National Immunisation Conference, Harris said, “Now more than ever, we need to all stand up for the importance of vaccines and vaccination.”

He confirmed that, from September, the government will introduce the HPV vaccine for teenage boys and we will also be introducing the A,C,W,Y vaccine against meningitis for boys and girls.

Flu vaccine

For the first time in Ireland, the quadrivalent flu vaccine – which is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses – will be offered next winter, added the minister. 

Harris said high confidence in vaccination programmes is crucial for maintaining high coverage rates, especially at levels that exceed those required for herd immunity.

“It is becoming clear that we need to redouble our efforts in this regard. Recent poll results have found nearly half of Europeans believe vaccinations cause serious side-
effects and more than a third claim they cause the diseases they seek to protect against.”

These beliefs are based on untruths. Vaccines work. They save lives. It is not a matter of opinion, but one of fact.

The minister added that is in conscious there are parents who are concerned about their children. 

“I understand there is genuine concern among some parents in relation to vaccination. Vaccine scares make good headlines. The stories of those suffering the long- term effects of diseases such as meningitis and measles — which can be prevented by immunisation — rarely achieve similar prominence,” he said. 

Tackling misinformation

Harris said the main challenge for policy makers in combating vaccine hesitancy, particularly in the context of social media, is tackling the twin issues of misinformation and disinformation.

“It is vital that parents are given accurate and evidence-based information about the benefits of vaccination as well as the possible side-effects to enable them to make
an educated and informed choice about their children’s immunisation.”

Speaking about mandatory vaccination, he said he has asked his department to examine the global evidence and to assess whether such regulations would work here. He said he has also written to the Attorney General over the matter. 

shutterstock_1116989921 Source: Shutterstock/JStone

At Oireachtas Health Committee yesterday, Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell said she is particularly concerned about people getting health information from celebrities online.

“I get concerned when I hear views on this issue from people such as Andrew Wakefield, the discredited doctor, who apparently is currently dating Elle Macpherson. There is a celebrity element to this.  

“Kim Kardashian’s baby’s birth by surrogate has a CBD theme. The minister probably did not know that. He is probably too busy running the health service. A celebrity element is coming into issues that have a serious effect on our public health. We as legislators must be strong on this.

“If we let the Kardashians or Andrew Wakefield into the mix on this, issues in respect of which there has major investment in our universities and our institutions over the years can be diminished by a reality TV star, not into getting into the President of the United States while we are at the health committee. However I feel strong about this and about the impact of social media on people’s health and bad information,” she said. 


Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

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