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WHO announces Ireland is now rubella free

“This is a great achievement for the Irish population, the health services and a reflection of hard work in surveillance and control and vaccination programmes,” according to Dr Kevin Kelleher, HSE Assistant National Director for Public Health and Child Health.

“As a result of this achievement the risk of congenital rubella occurring in Ireland is now very small. Unfortunately, in other parts of the world the WHO reports that worldwide, over 100 000 babies are born with Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) every year. Until rubella is eliminated world-wide a rubella infection could be imported into Ireland from another country.

“That is why the HSE strongly urges parents to continue to get their children vaccinated against rubella to make sure that rubella does not return. We also need to ensure that women of childbearing age, particularly women born outside Ireland, are vaccinated, and maintain good surveillance for both rubella and congenital rubella.

“This week is European Immunisation Week and this great news is a timely reminder that immunisation is one of the most successful andcost-effective health interventions known. Immunisation programmes have been very successful achieving many things, including the eradication of smallpox, the reduction of the global incidence of polio by 99 percent and reduced illness, disability and death from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, and meningitis. High vaccine coverage and surveillance are essential to prevent outbreaks of these diseases,” said Dr Kelleher.

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