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MMR vaccination rates ‘a serious concern’, CCO told meeting

By David Lynch - 26th May 2024

MMR vaccination

The HSE Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) Dr Colm Henry told an internal meeting in February that “falling” MMR vaccination rates were of “serious concern”.

The HSE safety and quality committee was advised that MMR vaccine uptake in Ireland was “suboptimal and has declined to below 90 per cent since early 2020”. 

The CCO reported a “current focus on rolling-out catch-up vaccines to reach certain areas/communities”.

A HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent that approximately 90 per cent of eligible people in Ireland had received their MMR vaccine prior to
the catch-up campaign. “An additional 5,700 people have availed of the opportunity to receive an MMR catch-up vaccine.”

According to the World Health Organisation, 95 per cent MMR coverage is required for community immunity. “So we ask all eligible people to come forward to get vaccinated,” stated the HSE’s spokesperson.

The HSE was “encouraged” by the number of people vaccinated to date and noted “that clinics in third-level institutions have been particularly well-attended”.

“However, some eligible people have not been vaccinated and we would encourage those individuals to avail of the MMR catch-up programme, particularly if they are planning to travel over the summer holidays.”

The spokesperson said measles “can be unpleasant and is a potentially serious and highly infectious disease”.

Serious complications include pneumonia and encephalitis. One-in-five people infected may need hospital care and the disease can be fatal.

Speaking in Dublin recently, former Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci, said measles vaccination uptake “needs to be well above 90 per cent”. He said uptake globally had been impacted by growing vaccination hesitancy fuelled by misinformation.

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