Irish Medical Organisation

Children’s Whooping Cough Death– both tragic and avoidable IMO Public Health Doctors

6th April 2013

Public Health Doctors at the IMO conference in Killarney today called on the Department of Health and the HSE to properly provide for the provision of the Pertussis vaccine (Tdap) to pregnant women in the period 28 to 32 weeks gestation through each pregnant woman’s General Practitioner.

Dr. Brett Lynam, Chair of the IMO Public Health Committee said; “This call is in line with a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, and in response to increased incidences of whooping cough in new-borns and infants.

He said; “Two neonates died from whooping cough in Ireland in 2012, these deaths were both tragic and potentially avoidable.”

The IMO Public Health Doctors want the HSE to reverse its current policy that the vaccine be ‘sourced privately,’ as this policy places an undue burden on those living in deprived areas, and on General Practitioners already struggling with increased workloads and reduced funding.

The IMO highlighted the absurdity of pregnant women in Northern Ireland being able to avail of this vaccine free of charge through the NHS, while their counterparts south of the border were denied the same level of care, unless they can afford it.

There was also a call on the HSE to put in place the full range of supports needed by the PH Emergency Out of Hours Service, including access to Environmental Health Officers, and a clear channel of communication to local hospitals.

The national meeting of Public Health Doctors was also told that without these supports of the Out of Hours service was potentially unsafe for both doctors and the general population.


Maria Murphy
Director of Communications &
Public Affairs
Irish Medical Organisation

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