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Press Release

Minister for Health Announces Funding to Support the Work of the Vaccine Alliance and Reminds the Public of the Importance of Vaccination

Published: 3 January 2020
From: Department of Health

Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, has today (Friday) announced that funding of €500,000 has been made available to support the work of the Vaccine Alliance.

The funding will be used to boost the uptake of childhood vaccines and improving confidence in vaccines.

Minister Harris said:

"In Ireland, we currently have high uptake rates of our childhood vaccines, with nine out of ten parents choosing to vaccinate their children.
"However, we have also seen alarming instances of how misinformation about vaccines can lead to unnecessary illness and harm, and we know that many of those that currently choose to vaccinate are uncertain about aspects of vaccination.
"To better understand and address these concerns, a detailed research programme will be conducted with parents, in the first instance, to find out their views and attitudes, to vaccines. The learning gained from this listening exercise will be used to develop targeted and effective communications aimed at improving confidence in vaccines. This vital work will be carried out during 2020."

The Minister stressed the importance of this work particularly in the context of outbreaks of measles and mumps and the ‘flu virus which is currently circulating. He reminded the public that it was not too late to get vaccinated.

"It is really important to remember that by getting vaccinated, you are protecting, not only yourself, but also the most vulnerable members of our society, such as, infants who are too young to get vaccinated, older people, and those who are immunocompromised."

The Minister advised the public to get information on vaccines from a reputable source:

"I understand that people have concerns about vaccines but the best thing you can do if you are unsure is to get the facts."

Information on vaccination is available at www.immunisation.ie.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

1. After clean water, vaccination is the most effective intervention for saving lives and promoting good health.

2. Vaccine hesitancy, defined as either a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services, was identified by the World Health Organization, in 2019, as one of the ten leading threats to global health.

3. Vaccination currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year. An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, however, if global vaccination coverage improves.

4. In 1950, there were approximately 5,000 cases of rubella reported in Ireland, along with 500 cases of diptheria and 500 cases of polio. By comparison, in 2017, there were no cases of diptheria, rubella or polio. The last reported case of polio in Ireland was in 1984.

5. If 1,000 people get Meningococcal C infection, 50 will die. If 1,000 people are immunised, 50 will have discomfort, redness and swelling where the injection was given or will have a fever.

6. One in 1000 cases of measles is fatal. 72 children and adults died from measles in the European Region in 2018.

7. There has been a 72% decrease in cases of rotavirus since the vaccine was introduced for babies in 2016.

8. There were 69 cases of whooping cough in 2017 in babies less than 6 months of age. All pregnant women should get the whooping cough vaccine to give their baby the best protection during their first few months of life.

9. Each year in Ireland 300 women develop cervical cancer and 90 die from the disease. The HPV vaccine, HPV9, protects against 9 out of 10 cervical cancers.

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