September 28, 2023

Kilkenny parents urged to vaccinate children against meningitis amid fears of more deaths

HEALTH authorities have urged parents in Kilkenny and across the country to have their children vaccinated against meningitis to prevent further deaths.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) spoke out after it emerged the deadly infection has claimed the lives of three people over the past three weeks.

Eleven cases of meningococcal meningitis have been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre since the last week in December.

The HSE Assistant National Director for Public and Child Health, Dr Kevin Kelleher, said many children were being left unprotected as parents were failing to have them vaccinated.

“After all the pressure on us to get the vaccines to deal with meningitis, the uptake rates are not hitting the 95% mark,” he said.

“What is very disappointing is seeing that the boosters that we give to 12- and 13-month-olds are not being taken up. Some of the difficulty we are facing at the moment is that we are not getting all the babies vaccinated.

“It is stunning to imagine, after all the issues we went through, that now our uptake rates are around 88-90%. That leaves quite a lot of children unprotected from it over the years as a consequence.

“It’s been going on for quite a number of years but it’s really important that those boosters happen. Parents have to make sure they take their child along twice, at 12 months and 13 months to get those boosters.”

Dr Kelleher added: “Meningitis is a lethal disease. There is no doubt about that. It isn’t just deaths. It causes some of the most horrendous problems. There are famous cases in Ireland of young people losing limbs and things of that nature. It really is quite catastrophic.”


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