Vaccine error for up to 300 children


IT IS now believed that just under 300 children may need to be revaccinated after it came to light that a GP practice they attended in the Dublin area may have failed to properly prepare and administer routine childhood vaccinations.

It is also feared that the error may have begun as long ago as the mid-1990s, and that some of the families who are affected may have moved or even left the country.

“Some of the children are now teenagers and all of the patient files are being checked to try and make sure everyone is contacted,” said a HSE source.

The GP practice is in a Dublin area, and it is understood that when the HSE became aware of concerns the doctor in question stopped administering the vaccinations.

Last week the HSE sent letters to 221 families alerting them to what it had discovered.

It has established a clinic in Peamount Hospital for the families to attend with their children so they can be revaccinated.

“We think about 280 children may be involved,” said the source.

It is unclear what the exact problem was, but it is thought that too little of the vaccine may have been given and therefore the children were not correctly immunised.

“There are no known safety issues with the vaccines received previously by the children,” said the HSE. But it also acknowledged that “as the vaccine may not have been effective, these children may not be appropriately protected from these diseases”.

This is believed to be the first time that the health authorities have come across a situation where vaccines were not administered exactly as the manufacturers’ guidelines direct.

According to the the Health Protection Surveillance Centre “children who have received incorrect doses of a vaccine may not have sufficient immunity to the disease in question”.

More than 60,000 children are vaccinated each year in Ireland against diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae B (Hib), hepatitis B (since 2008), measles, meningococcal C (MenC) disease, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumococcal disease (since 2008), polio, rubella (German measles) and tetanus.

The HSE declined to comment on what kind of disciplinary action might be taken against the doctor, such as an inquiry by the Medical Council.