Parents need to continue to get their babies vaccinated on time during the Covid-19 pandemic as vaccine preventable diseases (such as measles, mumps, polio, whooping cough) continue to be reported, according to the Director of the HSE National Immunisation Office, Dr Lucy Jessop.
“This week is World Immunisation Week and it is a great opportunity to remind us all about the importance of getting vaccinated on time. We know people are worried about Covid-19 but other infectious diseases are also a threat and so vaccines for babies, pregnant women and people in at risk groups should continue at this time through GP practices.
“WHO and HSE advice has not changed, vaccines must be given at their recommended time to provide maximum protection from vaccine preventable diseases. Delaying vaccines is putting you and your children at unnecessary risk of vaccine preventable diseases at the time they are most vulnerable to the diseases.
“The Health Protection Surveillance Centre continues to report cases of vaccine preventable disease during Covid-19, many of these cases could have been prevented by getting vaccinated on time.
“We would encourage parents to continue to get their babies vaccinated on time. Please phone your GP practice to make an appointment and follow their advice to protect you, your baby and the practice staff. For example they will advise you to give your baby liquid paracetamol after the MenB vaccine at 2 or 4 months of age, because babies can get a fever after this vaccine. Don’t forget to take your vaccination passport with you so your baby’s records are up to date”.
Vaccines for babies are recommended at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 13 months of age and protect against 13 vaccine preventable diseases. Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is recommended for pregnant women from 16-36 weeks of pregnancy to protect them and their babies in the first few months of life when they are too young to be vaccinated. The vaccines provided to babies and pregnant women through the national immunisation programme are available for free through GP practices.
The HSE School Immunisation Programme is on hold while schools remain closed. The HSE hopes to reinstate this important programme when schools reopen. HSE School vaccination teams were due to give the 4 in 1 and MMR vaccine to junior infants and give a second dose of HPV vaccine and a dose of MenACWY vaccine to 1st year students before schools closed. Students who have had 1 dose of HPV vaccine will not need to restart their HPV vaccine schedule when the vaccination programme starts again.
We would also like to thank all the GPs and Practice Nurses who are working hard to keep us all safe during Covid-19. By continuing to offer vaccines to babies, pregnant women and people in at risk groups you are preventing needless outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.