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BCG vaccine will not be made available until ‘at least’ the second half of 2017 — HSE

This represents a further delay in the availability of the vaccine that is given to protect babies against tuberculosis (TB).

The delay is a European-wide issue. The BCG stocks in Ireland expired in April 2015. Since then, BCG vaccination clinics in HSE facilities and maternity hospitals have been postponed until new stock arrives.

“The most recent information from the manufacturer is that BCG vaccine will not be available until at least the second half of 2017,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI). There is only one licensed manufacturer of BCG vaccine in the EU.

Cases of TB have been steadily falling in Ireland. The number of cases for the years 2014 and 2015 were the lowest since records began, according to the HSE. Most European countries do not give BCG to all babies.

“So your baby is not at risk of TB because of the delay in getting the vaccine,” according to the HSE website.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), an independent expert group on immunisation, and HIQA, have both recommended that BCG vaccine does not now need to be given routinely to all babies in Ireland.

Separately, a HSE spokesperson said that the second dose of the HPV vaccine for the school year will be given in March/April this year, as usual.

“And the first dose of vaccine will also be offered to all girls who did not receive it in September 2016,” said the HSE’s spokesperson.

Concerns have been raised in recent months over falling uptake levels of the HPV vaccine.

“[The] HPV vaccine is safe and effective and the HSE and all national and international expert bodies strongly recommend all parents get HPV vaccine for their daughters to protect them from cervical cancer,” said the Executive’s spokesperson.

The HPV vaccine is available free of charge from the HSE for all girls in first year of second-level school.

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