Problems with imminent extension of vaccination scheme for new-born babies
Doctors warn that the Department of Health is going to miss the 1st December deadline for adding vaccinations against two serious illnesses to existing scheme for new-born babies.
Monday 14th November 2016. GPs in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have warned that the Department of Health is going to miss the deadline for the planned expansion of the childhood vaccination scheme which is due to come into effect from 1st December next (just 2.5 weeks away).
From the beginning of next month, the Department of Health and the HSE had planned to addtwo new vaccines to be given by GPs to all children born after the 1st October last.
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.
Dr. Austin Byrne of the GP Committee of the IMO said that the failure of the Department to plan for the introduction of the vaccines on schedule is “deeply regrettable”. He said; “These are important vaccines. Indeed, I will be giving my own new-born baby these vaccines and I strongly support their widespread introduction across the community. GPs have played a key role in ensuring that Ireland has one of the most effective immunisation regimes in the world but this experience makes me fearful that this will be lost. Following early discussions with the IMO, the Department of Health and the HSE have simply disengaged in the past number of weeks, leaving GPs, and more importantly parents of new-borns, at a loss as to what is happening. This really is a disgrace. There is a lot of talk about new contracts and health reform but we fear, if this is to be the level of engagement, that is all it is - talk.”.
Dr. Byrne said that the IMO has written in recent days to the HSE to express its concern over the delays and advised them that the IMO will have to write to GPs to advise them that no agreement has been reached and that it seems unlikely that the vaccines will be introduced on 1st December; “the IMO has a framework agreement in place with the HSE to discuss arrangements for new work like this but the HSE and Department has failed to engage meaningfully with us on what is an important public health initiative for children. In a nutshell, the disorganisation of the Department and the HSE means that the rollout of these important vaccinations is now at risk. It is now up to the Minister to ensure that this welcome public health policy can be delivered to new-borns.”