Local Doctor and Fine Gael Senator Dr James Reilly has urged parents to ensure local children are vaccinated before any summer travel, as a number of countries have reported measles outbreaks.
Reilly said: “Measles is a very contagious disease and can affect anyone at any age. Vaccination with MMR vaccine is the only way to protect against measles. The first MMR dose is given by GPs at 12 months of age, and the second dose is given to Junior Infants at school by HSE vaccination teams across the North County,” he said,
“Despite the availability of free and effective vaccines, a small number of people make the personal choice not to vaccinate themselves or their children in the belief that vaccines are unsafe or no longer necessary.”
“I am calling on all parents in North County Dublin not to delay getting the MMR for their child when it is due and I would urge any parent who has doubts or questions about vaccination to engage with your family doctor, or alternatively to visit the National Immunisation office website.”
“These sources of information are clear and accurate and will answer any queries you may have about the benefits or risks of vaccination. Older children and young adults who have not completed- or are not sure they have completed- their two dose MMR vaccination schedule should be vaccinated as soon as possible,” he warned.
Reilly continued: “In Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden – the number of cases of measles reported in January-February 2017 was more than double that of the first two months of 2016. This is a clear and present danger for Irish holidaymakers who are not vaccinated.
“It is also important that older children going to language colleges or other summer camps are up to date with their MMR vaccine.”
“We know what can happen from our own fairly recent experience. The scare surrounding the MMR vaccine in the 1990s resulted in a large reduction in uptake rates for this vaccine. In January 2000, a large outbreak of measles occurred in Dublin and resulted in more than 100 children being hospitalised, 13 children required intensive care treatment, and there were three measles-related deaths.”
“People need to be aware that a personal decision not to vaccinate has a wider public impact. Such a decision may put their own life and that of their child at risk, and it may also put at risk other vulnerable individuals that they come into contact with – people with a reduced immunity, such as sick and elderly vulnerable patients, pregnant women or small babies who have not yet completed all their vaccinations.”
“We must always remember that we all have a public health commitment to our communities to protect each other and each other’s children by vaccinating ourselves and our own family members,” concluded Dr Reilly.
In a related story, which further emphasises the importance of vaccination, four children are battling serious illness after being hospitalised with chickenpox recently. Dr Karina Butler who works in Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin and Temple Street was speaking at a recent Oireachtas health committee and raised the point that there is a safe and licensed vaccine and asked why we are not using it.
She said, “While chickenpox is a relatively mild illness for some, it is also the leading infectious cause of stroke in children. Most seriously, it is a common cause of life threatening bacterial infection including (GAS) Group A Streptococcus. Dr Butler and a number of other doctors who appeared before the committee, to highlight the need to increase the uptake of vaccines to prevent disease.”