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"A disgrace" - Doctors warn that vaccines to protect newborns will not be introduced by deadline

The IMO warns that a 1 December deadline will be missed.
Nov 14th 2016, 8:44 AM 14,135 14

Updated at 2pm

DOCTORS HAVE WARNED that the Government is going to miss an upcoming deadline to introduce new vaccines against two serious illnesses for newborn babies.

GPs in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) released a statement this morning warning that the Government will miss a 1 December deadline to expand the childhood vaccination scheme.

The Government had agreed to expand the childhood vaccination scheme so that all children born after 1 October would be vaccinated against two additional illnesses:

  • Meningococcal B/MenB
  • and Rotavirus

The IMO warned that Ireland has the highest rate of invasive meningococcal disease in Europe. MenB is leading cause of this disease which can cause severe illness and death.

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

The IMO stated that both vaccines against these illnesses are used widely internationally and have a proven effectiveness.

Dr. Austin Byrne of the GP Committee of the IMO said that the failure of the Department to plan for the introduction of the vaccines on schedule was “deeply regrettable”.

“These are important vaccines.  Indeed, I will be giving my own newborn baby these vaccines and I strongly support their widespread introduction across the community,” he said.

“Following early discussions with the IMO, the Department of Health and the HSE have simply disengaged in the past number of weeks, leaving GPs, and more importantly parents of newborns, at a loss as to what is happening.

This really is a disgrace.  There is a lot of talk about new contracts and health reform but we fear, if this is to be the level of engagement, that is all it is – talk.

The IMO has written to the HSE in recent to days to express its concern over the delays in the vaccines’ introduction.

It said it will have to write to GPs and advise them that no agreement has been reached and it’s likely now that the vaccinations won’t be introduced by 1 December.

 In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the HSE said that its National Immunisation Office had been working hard to make all the arrangement for the expansion of the childhood immunisation scheme.

“All of the necessary preparations are now in place; including information on the two vaccines for parents and GPs, as well as fulfilling orders from GPs for the new vaccines,” the spokesperson said.

This will facilitate a timely roll out of the programme once the matter of a fee for GPs for administering the vaccine has been resolved.

Read: ‘Forty young Irish girls will die of cervical cancer as a result of falling HPV vaccine rates’ says Fine Gael TD

Read: One year after stocks ran out, Ireland’s BCG vaccine delivery is still delayed

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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