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Significant update in National Pandemic Influenza Plan expected

The Department of Health has told the Medical Independent (MI) that a whole series of recent developments will impact this update, including recent decisions from the EU, Ireland’s response to Ebola and the final recommendations of the Pandemic Review Group.

A spokesperson did not give a date for when these updates are expected to be made.

“The National Pandemic Influenza Plan will be updated in due course to take into consideration the EU decision on serious cross-border health threats,” said the Department spokesperson.

“[Also] the WHO interim guidance on pandemic influenza risk management published in 2013, the recommendations of the Pandemic Review Group, the National  Framework for Emergency Management being prepared by the Office of Emergency Planning, and the Irish response to recent  Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC), and preparedness for future PHEICs.

“It will also take into account any recommendations concerning pharmaceutical measures, including immunisation, the use of anti-viral medications and any necessary arrangements to ensure they are available for use during a PHEIC.”

Separately, the HSE has told MI that stocks of the BCG vaccine are not now expected until “mid 2018”.

Earlier this summer, Minister for Health Simon Harris told the Dáil that it was hoped that a vaccine would be available in Ireland in “early 2018”.

There is currently a worldwide shortage of BCG vaccine. The vaccine has not been available in Ireland since the end of April 2015.

“There is only one licensed supplier of BCG vaccine to Ireland. The manufacturer has had difficulties in the production of the BCG vaccine,” Minister Harris told the Dáil earlier this year.

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