Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in Dublin reported that in the previous year 84% of 24-month-old children received the vaccination. Even Ireland has joined the list as it shows a very low take up of the MMR vaccination.
Hence a high alert has been issued by the health officials after the death of a teenager from measles in Britain. Statistics show that the vaccination up take is considerably lower than the World Health Organization's recommendation of 95% coverage. This level has to be maintained to prevent an outbreak of measles. Suzanne Cotter, a specialist in public health medicine at the HSPC said that there are no borders that are strictly followed by the infectious diseases. They have alerted health centres that this is of concern following the death of a 14 year old due to measles in the country.
It is also known that there are many outbreaks of measles in the Ruhr region of Germany, where more than 400 children have contracted the disease. But now after the alert has been issued the MMR uptake in Ireland is increasing. There was a 3% rise between 2004 and 2005 but still healthcare workers believe that some areas have dangerously low levels of protection. In response to this Denis Gill, a paediatrician at Temple Street hospital in Dublin said that there are pockets in Dublin that have less than 80%. Due to the publication in 1998 of a research paper by Dr Andrew Wakefield, MMR vaccination rates in Britain and Ireland fell dramatically. He said that there was a link between MMR vaccine and autism. Due to this many parents choosing not to immunize their children.
The last serious outbreak of measles in Ireland was in 2000 and claimed the lives of three children and the immunisation was as low as 66% in north Dublin, the epicentre of the outbreak. Though Wakefield's research is discredited, but healthcare officials are still struggling to convince parents that the benefits of immunisation outweigh any perceived risk. This research undermined public confidence. Cotter believes that the recent increase in uptake indicates that parents have renewed confidence in the safety of the MMR.
There is a mix of people choosing not to have immunisation for different reasons. Liz McManus, Labour's deputy leader and health spokeswoman, intends to raise the issue with Mary Harney, the minister of health, in the Dail. There were 25 cases of measles in Ireland so far this year, compared to 30 in the same period last year. Brenda Corcoran, assistant director of the programme of action for children, maintains that the Health and Safety Executive's strategy is effective. She said that the MMR uptake figures have been increasing steadily.