Call to make Meningitis B vaccination available under catch-up programme
There has been a fresh call to make the Meningitis B vaccination available under a catch up programme for children born before October 2016.
The Meningococcal B strain has only been included in the HSE's programme since this time, meaning that any child born before then have not received it.
The children and young adults that are most vulnerable to Meningococcal B are the under 1s, under 5s and teenagers.
Social Democrats spokesperson for children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, has called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to introduce the vaccination as part of a catch up programme for those born before this time.
She said that a lot of parents may feel their child is protected because they have already been vaccinated with the six in one vaccine, but this is not entirely the case.
“Vaccination is our main way of preventing the spread of these kinds of life-threatening diseases," she said.
“This means that children who received their vaccinations before October 2016 will only be immunised against Meningococcal C.
"However, the age groups that are most vulnerable to Meningococcal B are the under 1s, under 5s and teenagers. The latter two cohorts will not have received any protection against this disease under the current vaccination programme."
The vaccination can be ordered privately through GPs, however parents or guardians will be charged a fee.
This comes after the HSE warned that rates of meningitis have risen since last year.
11 diagnosed cases and three fatalities have were directly attributed to the infection between the last week of 2018 and the first week of 2019.
This is more than a 50 percent increase from last year's figures from the same period.
Eleven cases of meningococcal disease have been notified to the @hpscireland since the last week in December. If anyone has any concerns about meningitis they should ring their GP in the first instance. https://t.co/lgjPrwBHu8 pic.twitter.com/VAwXFOuYZp
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) January 9, 2019
Bacterial meningitis is the more serious form of the condition. Symptoms usually begin suddenly and rapidly get worse.
Early symptoms of bacterial meningitis in adults include:
- A severe headache
These can develop into drowsiness, confusion and fits if left untreated.
In babies and young children, symptoms include:
- Becoming floppy and unresponsive, or stiff with jerky movements
- Unusual crying
- Vomiting and refusing feeds
- Pale and blotchy skin
- Loss of appetite
- Staring expression
- Very sleepy with a reluctance to wake up
For a full list of symptoms and more information regarding meningitis, visit the HSE's website.
If you suspect a case of bacterial meningitis, you should phone 999 immediately to request an ambulance.