Press Release

Minister urges parents to have their children immunised

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, today (4 May 2002) again urged parents to have their children immunised against the diseases covered by the childhood immunisation programme.

“Immunisation will ensure that both their children and the population generally have maximum protection against the diseases concerned,” said the Minister.

The Minister referred to recent success in reducing the incidence of Meningitis C in the population. This reduction is as a result of the success to date of the National Immunisation Programme aimed at the prevention of Group C Meningitis.

The success of the campaign to date is reflected in data provided by the National Disease Surveillance Centre, which indicates a significant reduction in Group C Meningococcal disease notifications since the launch of the campaign.

Year   Cases of Group C Meningitis  
2000 139
2001 35

“This 75% reduction is very significant and highlights the positive impact the vaccine has had in Ireland,” said the Minister.

The most dramatic reduction in the age groups targeted by the vaccine was in the 5 to 9 age group, which recorded a 93% reduction in the number of cases.

The Minister launched this campaign in October 2000 with the objective of immunising the population up to 22 years of age. The catch-up programme is now complete and the vaccine has been introduced into the Childhood Immunisation Programme for children at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The vaccine is available free of charge from family doctors.

Funding of €31.7m was provided in 2000 and over €52m was provided in 2001 to complete the programme.