1597 Reported Cases of Measles So Far This Year - 1248 of These Cases in Eastern Regional Health Authority. Measles epidemics occur because Irish Children are not being vaccinated. Protect Your Children Against This Virulent Life-Threatening Infection


The NDSC again strongly urges all parents and carers to have their children vaccinated against measles. The MMR vaccine, which is free, can prevent measles in over 90% of cases. This vaccine is given by your GP/ Family Doctor to all children aged 15 months (with the exception of children in Dublin who are given the vaccine at 12 months in the whole of the ERHA region because of the increased number of cases there) and a second dose is now given at primary school at age 5-6 years. With the second dose, over 99% of immunized children are protected from measles infection.

"So far (up to 23rd December 2000) the National Disease Surveillance Centre has received notification of 1597 cases of measles in comparison to only 148 cases in total in 1999. 1248 of these cases have been in the Eastern Regional Health Authority (formerly known as the Eastern Health Board). Present vaccination uptake levels against measles are as low as 73% to 75% in some parts of the country when they should be at least 95%. This is leaving Irish children vulnerable to epidemics" commented Dr Darina O'Flanagan, Director of the NDSC.

Measles is an acute infection which usually occurs in children age 1-4 years of age who have not yet been vaccinated against it but it can also occur at any age. Measles is caught through direct contact with an infected person or through the air by coughing and sneezing. It is highly infectious before the rash appears.

Complications associated with measles include severe cough and breathing difficulties (croup), ear infections, viral and bacterial lung infection (pneumonia) and eye infections. Other more serious problems involve the nervous system and inflammation of the brain. Severe disease and complications are most likely in young children under 5 years and adults over 20 years. While complications are more common in those who are malnourished or those whose immune system is not working properly, it is important to realise that almost half of the deaths associated with measles occur in previously healthy children and young adults.

Editors Notes:

The Royal College of Physicians has recently changed the age of the second dose of MMR to 5-6 years. Previously children received the second dose at 11-12 years. The change in the timing of the second dose is intended to provide protection for the 5-10% of children who do not respond to the first dose.

MMR Uptake by Health Board at 2 years of age in 2000*

Health Board                        MMR % Uptake

Eastern                                   74%

Midland                                   73%

Mid-Western                           73%

North Eastern                         80%

North Western                        73%

South Eastern                         87%

Southern                                 74%

Western                                  82%

 *(based on Quarter 1 & 2 only)