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There will be two changes made to the Programme from 1 December, with the introduction of meningitis B and rotavirus vaccines for all children born on or after 1 October 2016.
The Department of Health recently told MI the HSE was working on the necessary preparations and had been given additional funding of €2.5 million for the expansion of the Programme in 2016, with further funding for 2017.
However, a spokesperson for the IMO told MI last week there are a number of proposed changes to the scheme “which require negotiation with the IMO under the Framework Agreement”.
“The IMO are currently in negotiations on these matters and no agreement has been reached as yet.”
They added: “The IMO has met with the HSE on a number of occasions and while welcoming the clinical benefits to patients, the IMO have advised the HSE as to the workload and other issues associated with the proposed changes. In line with the Framework Agreement, the IMO will advise GPs of the outcome of those negotiations and the opinion of the IMO in respect of same.”
The NAGP recently sent a letter to its members informing them it was lobbying and seeking clarification from the HSE and Department on the arrangements for the new vaccines.
Speaking to MI, NAGP CEO Mr Chris Goodey said: “The ongoing delay in providing clarity on the implementation of the revised childhood immunisation schedule is causing considerable concern and frustration to members.
“We have informed the Department and the HSE of the urgency of the situation. We are concerned that an ongoing delay may have a practical impact on the delivery of the scheme.”
GPs have been able to order the new vaccines through the HSE National Cold Chain Service since 1 November but due to the delay in agreeing the new arrangements and the time delay between ordering and delivery, there are fears the programme may not commence until the New Year.
The introduction of the meningitis B vaccine will make Ireland the second country in Europe to make the vaccine available free of charge as part of its national immunisation programme.