Meningitis C Vaccine
The National Disease Surveillance Centre (NDSC) wishes to urge all parents of children aged under five and young people aged 15-18 years (inclusive) due the Meningitis C vaccine to receive it without delay. The NDSC wishes to reiterate that the balance of risk and benefit is overwhelmingly favourable and the Meningitis C vaccination provides a clear benefit in terms of lives saved and disabilities prevented.
The number of incidences of Meningitis C has been reduced dramatically in Ireland since the vaccine was made available in September. Only three cases of Meningitis C were reported in November which is the lowest figure recorded for a number of years. These early figures demonstrating a drop in incidence since the implementation of the vaccination programme is extremely promising. Given that one in ten people who suffer Meningitis C die from the infection, this demonstrates that the vaccines have already saved lives.
To date, 350,000 doses of the Meningitis C vaccine have been distributed in Ireland and side effects have been reported in 143 children. There are some side effects associated with the vaccine, which are generally not serious. These occur in all age groups and include nausea, vomiting, headache and a feeling of general malaise or aches and pains. We wish to reiterate that such side effects and reactions were expected and the balance of risk and benefit is overwhelmingly favourable.
To date over 15 million doses of the Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed in the UK. Last winter there was approximately a 75% reduction in the number of confirmed cases of Meningitis C disease in the 15-17 and under 1 year olds (the first group to be vaccinated) compared to the previous winter.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of Meningococcal Group C infection in the developed world and the infection claimed 11 lives out of the 165 confirmed cases reported in Ireland between July 1999 and June 2000. There has also been a 43% increase in the incidence of meningitis Group C infection in the last year and therefore it is of great concern to health professionals in Ireland.
The National Meningitis C Immunisation Programme was launched in Ireland on the 4th October 2000 by Mr Micheal Martin, T.D. and Minister for Health and Children. The immunisation programme will involve approximately 1.3 million people. Every person in Ireland aged 22 or under will be offered immunisation as part of this phased programme.