HSE offers MMR Vaccine to post Junior Cert students as Mumps cases continue to increase
The Health Service Executive (HSE) today announced that it will offer MMR vaccination to Transition, 5th and 6th Year students in secondary schools nationwide before the summer break. This measure is being taken in response to continued increases in cases of mumps in older teenagers and young adults across the country.
Dr Brenda Corcoran from the HSE’s National Immunisation Office today said ‘Outbreaks of mumps have become increasingly frequent in those aged 15 to 24 over recent years, and from January 2009 to date. There has been a huge increase in notifications reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre – 1957 compared to 128 for the same period in 2008.’
Mumps is an acute viral illness that causes fever, headache and painful, swollen salivary glands. It requires isolation or quarantine, and can cause people to miss up to two weeks from school, work, studying, taking exams or socialising. Generally complications are mild but mumps can cause meningitis, deafness or inflammation of the pancreas or testicles. MMR vaccine provides protection from mumps, as well as measles and rubella.
Dr Corcoran explained ‘This outbreak is happening because there are lots of older teenagers who have not had two doses of MMR vaccine and so are at risk of getting mumps. Outbreaks of mumps have been reported in secondary schools, colleges, universities, and sports clubs – that’s why we’ve decided to offer this group a dose of MMR. It will protect them now, and when they leave school.’
Teams from HSE Public Health Departments and Local Health Offices will contact second level schools across the country this week to schedule immunisation clinics in schools in the coming weeks. MMR vaccine will be provided to all those in Transition, 5th and 6th years, free of charge, protecting those who get the vaccine from contracting mumps.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee, a committee of independent immunisation experts supports the HSE campaign to control this outbreak and to prevent future ones.
Recent studies estimate that one dose of MMR is approximately 80% effective and estimates for two doses of MMR range from 88-95% effective in preventing mumps illness. If a young person’s MMR history is not known, an extra dose of MMR will do no harm, and could offer valuable protection against mumps.
The HSE will be attending as many schools as possible in the weeks before the summer break, and any schools that are not targeted will be followed up in September. In addition, the HSE continues to advise those in 3rd level institutions to attend Student Health services for MMR vaccine.
More information is available from www.mumps.ie or the HSE infoline 1850 24 1850.