11 May 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, is urging parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated before any summer travel as a number of countries have reported measles outbreaks.
“Measles is very contagious disease and can affect anyone at any age. Unfortunately a number of countries have recently reported measles outbreaks, which I urge any travellers to protect against.
“MMR vaccination is the only way to protect against measles. Despite the availability of free and effective vaccines, a small number of people make the personal choice not to vaccinate themselves or their children in the belief that vaccines are unsafe or no longer necessary.
“I am calling on all parents in Cork not to delay getting the MMR for their child when it is due, and I would encourage any parent who has doubts or questions about vaccination to engage with your family doctor, or alternatively to visit the National Immunisation office website. These are clear, accurate sources of information that can answer any queries you may have about the benefits or risks of vaccination.
“In Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden the number of measles cases reported in January-February this year was more than double that of the same period in 2016. This is a clear and present danger for Irish holidaymakers who are not vaccinated.
“It is also important that older children going to language colleges or other summer camps are up to date with their MMR vaccine. Older children and young adults who have not completed – or are not sure whether they have completed – their two dose MMR vaccination schedule should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
“We know what can happen from our own fairly recent experience. The 1990’s scare surrounding the MMR vaccine resulted in a large reduction in uptake for this vaccine. Then in January 2000 a large outbreak of measles occurred in Dublin and resulted in more than 100 children being hospitalised, 13 of which required intensive care treatment, and 3 unfortunate measles-related deaths.
“People need to be aware that a personal decision not to vaccinate has a wider public impact. Such a decision may put their own life and that of their child at risk, but also the lives of other, vulnerable individuals they come into contact with – people with a reduced immunity such as sick and elderly vulnerable patients, pregnant women or small babies who have not yet completed all their vaccinations.
“Collectively we need to ensure a public health commitment to our communities, to protect each other and each other’s children by vaccinating ourselves and our family members from highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases.”