Press Release

Minister for Health Simon Harris confirms Meningitis B and Rotavirus vaccinations will begin on 1 December 2016

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD confirmed today that parents can avail of Meningococcal B and Rotavirus vaccinations from their family doctor from 1st December.  This follows consultation under the Framework Agreement between the Irish Medical Organisation, the Department of Health and the HSE.

The Minister stated “I am very pleased that I am in a position to add Meningitis B and Rotavirus to the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme.  This will make further improvements to public health.  I am also pleased that I have the support of GPs to deliver it and I want to thank the IMO for their engagement on delivering this Programme.  I look forward to continued positive and constructive dialogue with the IMO and GPs, in particular in relation to the development of a new and modernised GP contract”.

All babies born on, or after, the 1st October 2016 will receive vaccines for Meningococcal B (Men B) and Rotavirus disease in addition to the other childhood vaccines currently given. The first doses of these vaccines are given at two months of age, which means that the first babies are due to begin receiving these vaccines from the beginning of December.

The HSE has been working with GPs and other health professions for a number of months to prepare for the introduction of the new vaccines. This work has included providing training to over 3,000 vaccinators, distributing vaccines to GP practices, and the providing information on the new vaccines to parents and professionals.

ENDS

Note for Editors:

In 2013 the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended that rotavirus vaccine should be introduced into the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme (PCIP) to reduce hospitalisations from rotavirus infections.

In January 2015 NIAC recommended the inclusion of Meningococcal B (Men B) vaccine in the PCI schedule to reduce death and disability from meningococcal disease provided that the vaccine can be procured at a cost-effective price.

Budget 2016 included additional funding for the introduction of these vaccines to the PCIP and it was agreed that these vaccines would be introduced for all children born on, or after, 1 October 2016.

Earlier this year the HSE National Immunisation Office (NIO) commenced arrangements for simultaneous introduction of both vaccines.

Further information and health advices are available on the HSE National Immunisation Office website (www.immunisation.ie).

Meningococcal B

Neisseria meningitides serogroup B was the pathogen most commonly associated with Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) in 2014 and accounted for 69 of the 82 (84.1%) notifications.

Since 2002 serogroup B has consistently accounted for more than 80% of annual IMD notifications

There were four IMD related notified deaths in 2014. All but one of the four IMD deaths in 2014 disease was due to serogroup B.

The vaccine will protect children from catching this disease.

Rotavirus
Rotavirus is a viral infection which causes diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and young children. It is very infectious. It is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children in Ireland under the age of 5 years. It is most common in the Spring and Winter.

Between 2006 and 2015 there was an average of 2,400 cases of rotavirus notified each year in Ireland in children aged 0-4, with most of these cases children less than 1 year old.

Most children will recover at home but some need to be admitted to hospital. Every year in Ireland almost 1000 children under the age of 5 are admitted to hospital with rotavirus infection. The average length of time they spend in hospital is 5 days. Babies and young children will now be protected from this disease by the rotavirus oral vaccine.

Preparations
Preparations for the introduction of the new vaccines on 1 December 2016 include:

  • The HSE has trained over 3,000 people from GP practices.
  • The HSE has distributed information packs to all GP practices.
  • Parents of children have been given information and materials on the new vaccines at their baby’s check-ups.
  • Three quarters of GP practices have ordered the vaccines and over half of them will have received the vaccines. Arrangements are in place to ensure any remaining GPs who order the vaccines will receive them on time.

Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme

The table below sets out the new and old vaccination schedules.

PCIP table

6 in 1 vaccine – combined vaccine against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus influenza type b, Poliomyelitis and Hepatitis B;

  • Hib/Men C vaccine – combined vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae type b and Meningococcal group C bacteria;
  • Hib – vaccine against Haemophilus influenza type b;
  • Men B – vaccine against Meningococcal group B bacteria;
  • Men C – vaccine against Meningococcal group C bacteria;
  • MMR – vaccine against Measles, Mumps and Rubella;
  • PCV – Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine;
  • Rotavirus – vaccine against Rotavirus disease.