System needed to identify at risk children in event of measles outbreak in schools and creches. 'Legislation needed to record immunisation status of children'
The Director of the National Disease Surveillance Centre, Dr Darina O'Flanagan today (Wednesday) said that a system must be put in place to ensure that children who have not had MMR jabs can be identified and treated rapidly, in the event of a measles outbreak in a school or creche.
"Low immunisation uptake is putting lives at risk and legislation is needed to record the immunisation status of children.
"There has been 100 cases of measles nationwide in the last 7 weeks alone, where around 30 cases is the norm for this period. Most of these cases have occurred in three areas - south west Dublin, the Midlands and the Western Health Board region - and are directly related to the low uptake of the MMR vaccine.
"To be fully protected children need two doses of the MMR vaccine, one at around fifteen months and a second at 5 to 6 years of age.
"With the continued poor level of uptake of the MMR vaccine, it is time to seriously examine incentives used in other countries to improve uptake. In Australia for example, a certain proportion of child benefit payment is linked to immunisation uptake - with an opt out clause for conscientious objectors."