Decision on meningitis B vaccine due next year

National Immunisation Advisory Committee makes four new recommendations around immunisation

Mon, Dec 9, 2013, 20:38

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee will decide next year whether a vaccine against meningitis B should be added to the routine immunisation schedule here.

Chairperson of the committee Dr Kevin Connolly said it was continuing to consider whether it should recommend the meningococcal B Vaccine, adding that the committee would discussed the matter again at its next meeting in January with a decision expected within the next year.

He said this was “one of the more difficult decisions” the committee have had to make, noting that that the incidence of meningitis B infection over the past 10 years had “fallen significantly”, that this was “quite an expensive vaccine” and that it was one which required four separate injections.

“We have to make sure that won’t interfere with the uptake of other vaccines,” he said.

The committee today announced four recommendations around immunisation including that a whooping cough vaccine be given to all pregnant women who are between 27 and 36 weeks pregnant.

It has also recommended that the Human Papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) should be considered for men who have sex with men, for those infected with HIV and persons who have had a bone-marrow transplant.

The committee also recommended that the oral rotavirus vaccine be added to the current primary childhood immunisation programme to immunise against what is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in young children as well as recommending that indications for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine be extended to include adults at increased medical risk.

The recommendations are contained in the new Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland which has been forwarded to the chief medical officer in the Department of Health.

Speaking of the importance of immunisation as a public health measure Dr Connolly said “overwhelming evidence demonstrates the benefits of immunisation as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions known”.

“Immunisation programmes have been very successful in achieving many things, including the eradication of smallpox, the reduction of the global incidence of polio by 99 percent and reduced illness, disability and death from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, and meningitis.

“High vaccine coverage and surveillance are essential to prevent outbreaks of these diseases,” he said.

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