Press Release

Lenihan launches revised Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland

Mr Brian Lenihan TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today (Wednesday 23 October 2002) launched the revised “Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland” produced by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

The Minister of State said: “This Programme provides for the immunisation of children against a range of potentially serious infectious diseases. Under the Programme, parents may have their children immunised free of charge by the GP of their choice.” The Childhood Immunisation Programme is a key element of the health services in Ireland today. The schedule of immunisation is in accordance with the recommendations of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

The objective of the Childhood Immunisation Programme is to achieve 95% uptake. The Minister of State is concerned about the low level of uptake, particularly in relation to the MMR vaccine.

The Minister of State said: “The primary concern of my Department is that vaccines in use are safe and effective. The Irish Medicines Board, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the World Health Organisation support the use of the MMR vaccine on the grounds that it has been demonstrated to be both safe and effective.”

The Minister of State also said: “Immunisation against Meningitis C is now an integral part of the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme. This particular vaccine has played an important role in dramatically reducing both the number of cases of Meningitis C and also fatalities as a result of contracting this terrible condition. Data provided by the National Disease Surveillance Centre indicates that 35 cases of group C disease were notified in 2001 compared to 139 cases in 2000 – which is a reduction of 75%. This represents a very significant reduction and highlights the importance and success of the campaign.

The Minister of State said: “I would like to take this opportunity to again urge all parents to have their children immunised against the diseases covered by the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme in order to ensure that both their children and the population generally have maximum protection against the diseases concerned.”