A bid for new funding for research on ‘vaccine hesitancy’ in Ireland has been submitted to the HSE and will also be sent to the Department of Health, this newspaper understands.
The issue of vaccine hesitancy was raised at the July meeting of the National Immunisation Programme, minutes of which have been seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.
“A bid for funding for new service development was submitted to HSE strategic planning and transformation for submission to the Department of Health,” a spokesperson for the programme told MI.
“This bid was for funding to carry out research to understand drivers of vaccine hesitancy in Ireland and to respond to this.
“Vaccine hesitancy is a term defined by WHO as follows: The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate, despite the availability of vaccines. It is influenced by factors such as complacency about diseases that are preventable through vaccination, convenience in accessing vaccines and confidence in vaccines.”
The spokesperson did not provide information on the level of funding requested and the time frame for the research.
Separately, the HSE has urged people in at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, to get vaccinated against influenza.
Staff flu vaccination uptake in the 2018/2019 flu season was 53.2 per cent for hospital staff and 42.2 per cent for long-term care facility (LTCF) staff, compared to 34 per cent for hospital staff and 27.1 per cent for LTCF staff in the 2016/2017 season.
Figures also showed that flu vaccine uptake in people aged 65 and over increased in Ireland last year. The HSE’s flu vaccine lead, Dr John Cuddihy, recently said that the vaccine is a life-saver, as flu can be a serious and sometimes deadly illness, with potentially 1,000 flu-related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season.