Harris agrees unvaccinated children should be barred from school

Minister for Health says there may be constitutional issues around a ban

Minister for Health Simon Harris “instinctively” agrees with a doctor’s suggestion that unvaccinated children should be barred from attending schools or creches. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Health Simon Harris “instinctively” agrees with a doctor’s suggestion that unvaccinated children should be barred from attending schools or creches. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that he “instinctively” agrees with a suggestion that unvaccinated children should be barred from attending schools or creches.

Mr Harris was responding to a tweet from Dr Dominic Rowley, who is a consultant at Portlaoise Midlands Regional Hospital, who suggested that the Minister should “take a bold step and #banunhealthyunvaccinatedkids from creche/school”.

Dr Rowley said: “It’s a really simple life saving concept. We should be protecting those kids who cannot receive #vaccines.”

Responding to Dr Rowley on Sunday night, Mr Harris tweeted: “Instinctively agree. Think we may have constitutional issues here. Will research further. #VaccinesSaveLives.”

Leading doctors have raised concerns about an decline in vaccination rates among Irish children in recent years, which has led to outbreaks of diseases like measles.

While MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccination rates in Ireland are high, they have at times dipped in recent years below the 95 per cent recommended for what is known as ‘herd immunity’.

The president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has previously said that misinformation spread on social media is playing a role in driving down vaccination rates in some areas.

Speaking last month, Dr Maitiu O Tuathail said that the “single biggest driving force for the reduction in vaccination uptake is misinformation on social media”.

“That is having an impact, it’s concerning people unnecessarily and putting people off getting vaccines, and we’re seeing that at the moment,” he said.

He added: “There’s an outbreak of measles in north county Dublin, and that is only because the uptake of the MMR vaccine is much lower than it should be, and that is as a result of misinformation on social media”.