HSE plans 'catch-up' MMR vaccine campaign


A CATCH-UP MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) immunisation campaign is being planned by the Health Service Executive (HSE) due to an increase in the number of measles cases.

Details have yet to be finalised but it is believed the once-off campaign will target secondary school students, possibly from later this year.

The MMR vaccine is routinely provided to children at 12 months of age, with a second dose at four or five years.

The HSE is concerned that children missing the second dose is leading to more outbreaks of measles – a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease.

The need for a catch-up campaign was identified last year, said a HSE spokesman. He added that planning was under way and further details would be announced in due course.

It is understood that parents of all secondary school students will be offered an MMR vaccination for their children if they have not had both doses.

Some 101 cases of measles in Ireland have been reported this year up to the end of June; 64 of which were linked to an outbreak in west Cork.

They were mainly teenagers, most of whom had received no MMR vaccine.

According to the latest available annual report of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, 403 cases of measles were reported in 2010, compared with 162 the previous year and 55 cases in 2008.

Parents are urged to make sure their children are up to date with their vaccinations and to contact their GP if their child or teenager has missed a dose.

Failure to vaccinate not only leaves your children but also other children, especially babies under one year of age, exposed to this devastating disease, according to the HSE.

Measles results in death in one or two cases in every 1,000. An estimated 4 per cent of those affected by the disease will develop pneumonia or bronchitis.

The HSE said Ireland was committed to the World Health Organisation plan for the elimination of measles and rubella in Europe by 2015.