Parents urged 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 in Dublin and cases linked to the Dublin outbreaks are being reported in other parts of the country. The MMR vaccine is the only protection from measles available. Measles 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.

Provisional data (08/09/2011) shows that the outbreak is spreading, with 191 cases of measles reported in Ireland since the start of 2011; over 86% of cases are in Dublin (mainly, but not exclusively, in the north Dublin area); 75% of cases have not been vaccinated with any MMR doses; 10% of cases have been hospitalised; no deaths have been reported.

The increase in cases among non-vaccinated children and young adults is a major cause for concern. Measles is a serious, but preventable, disease. 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 routinely 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 HPSC urges all parents, country-wide, to seek MMR vaccination for their child if they have missed it.

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.

If you think you or your child has measles, before you see your GP, call your doctor to arrange an appointment to minimise risk of transmission to others (either a house visit or a clinic visit at end of day).

The MMR vaccine is free.

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