Parents warned to vaccinate children with MMR as cases of measles rise


Parents are strongly advised to ensure their children have 2 doses of MMR Vaccine, as cases of measles begin to rise in Ireland. Outbreaks have been reported across Europe and in New Zealand. The MMR vaccine is the only protection available from measles, which can be a very serious and sometimes fatal illness.

There has been a rapid increase in numbers of measles cases recently, most of them centred in North Dublin City. Measles is a serious illness, and MMR vaccine is the only protection against it. In the year 2000, a serious outbreak in Dublin saw cases rise as high as 1600, and claimed the lives of 3 young children. Measles is a highly infectious and dangerous illness which spreads very easily, particularly in homes, crèches, playgroups, camps, schools and universities.

There have been 135 cases of measles in Ireland since the start of 2011, with over 70% arising in North Dublin City. Of the more than 26,000 cases across Europe, some have resulted in some severe outcomes, with six deaths, 14 neurological complications and 444 cases of severe pneumonia.

MMR Vaccine is the only protection against measles – parents are urged to make sure their children are fully protected by having the complete course of 2 MMR vaccinations. In Ireland, the first MMR dose is given at 12 months of age, and the second dose at 4-5 years of age. At the moment, only 90% of children in Ireland have received one dose of MMR by 24 months of age, which is below the target of 95% to prevent cases of measles and measles outbreaks.

The HSE is contacting GPs in the North Inner City of Dublin area, informing them of the rising numbers of cases and giving specific advice on vaccination measures, and is also arranging for special MMR vaccination clinics to be delivered in primary schools in the North Dublin area, when schools return in September.

What should parents do?

  • If you have a preschool or primary school child who never had an MMR shot – please go to your GP now for MMR vaccination.
  • If you have a primary school aged child who missed out on the MMR booster - please go to your GP now for MMR vaccination.
  • If you or an infant between 6 and 12 months is a contact of a measles case – please go to your GP for MMR vaccination.
  • If you’re not sure whether your child has had the full course of 2 doses – go to your GP for MMR vaccination

Symptoms of Measles:

  • High fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Red rash that starts on the head and moves down the body

Measles can cause chest infections, fits, ear infections, swelling of the brain and brain damage.

The MMR vaccine is free.

More information on measles is available here and from the HSE National Immunisation Office at