Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Statement on Childhood Immunisation

IMO Statement on Childhood Immunisation

No agreement reached yet between IMO and HSE/Department of Health on delivery of new vaccine programme - talks to continue

IMO asks Minister for Health to ensure new vaccines can be delivered safely and effectively and not to put vaccine uptake at risk

Friday 18th November 2016.  GPs in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have called on the Minister for Health to intervene directly to ensure that Government plans to extend the vaccination scheme for new-born babies from the 1st December can go ahead on schedule. At the start of the week the IMO warned that the failure of the Department of Health to engage with GPs on the issue meant that the planned new vaccines to be administered from 1st December were unlikely to proceed on schedule. Following this, the IMO was invited to meet with the HSE and the Department of Health twice this week to discuss what resources are needed to allow the plans to proceed but the IMO says no agreement has been reached and there is no acknowledgement by the Department and HSE that in order for the new vaccines to be delivered safely and effectively the scheme must be resourced appropriately.  

The additional vaccines are for Meningococcal B/MenB and Rotavirus. Ireland has the highest rate of invasive meningococcal disease in Europe and MenB disease is the major cause of these infections which can cause severe illness and death. Rotavirus disease is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children and results in 1,000 hospital admissions each year. Both vaccines are widely used internationally and have a proven effectiveness.

Speaking today, Dr. Austin Byrne of the GP Committee of the IMO called on the Minister for Health to intervene directly to resolve the issue. Dr. Byrne referenced a tweet sent on the issue earlier this week by the Minster. In the tweet, the Minister said that he “want(s) to see this done”.  Dr. Byrne said that the Minister needs to sort out the resources required to allow the new vaccinations be introduced on schedule in a safe and effective way.  Dr Byrne said “We all want to see this work but we have to make sure we resource it so it can be a success. The last thing we want is to risk poor uptake rates thus putting children’s health in danger.”

Dr. Byrne warned that the failure to agree appropriate resources for this initiative was a worrying omen in respect of a commitment to deliver a new GP Contract; “this is a relatively straightforward issue and for which relatively little resources are required. The IMO are willing to continue to engage with the Minister, the Department of Health and the HSE so that this matter can be resolved.”

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