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Image / Editorial

HSE urges parents to vaccinate children after rise in measles cases reported


by Jennifer McShane
14th Oct 2019
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The HSE is advising parents to get their children vaccinated at the start of International Infection Prevention Week (October 13th to 19th)


They report there has been an increase in the number of children and young adults with measles. In the first 15 weeks of the year, there were 48 cases of measles in Ireland, along with 898 cases of mumps.

“International Infection Prevention Week (13th – 19th October) takes place around the world to highlight how we can protect our health by reducing infection. The theme this year is Vaccines are Everybody’s Business. Keeping patients safe from infection is everyone’s responsibility; everyone needs to know the best ways to prevent infections,” said the HSE.

HSE Clinical Lead for Antibiotic Resistance, Professor Martin Cormican, reaffirmed vaccines are vital. “We still see people coming to hospital with measles and we saw the vaccine prevents those diseases. It makes you so sad to see a child ill with something that could so easily have been prevented.

“They are ill, they are miserable, they are missing school and measles sometimes has very serious complications and to see a child like this, it’s such a pity as this all could have been prevented by the vaccine,” Prof. Cormican said.

Related: Confessions of a former anti-vaxx parent: ‘I wanted others to take on the risks of vaccinating’

“We are now seeing an increase in the numbers of children and young adults with measles.  There has been an increase in the number of cases of measles and mumps in Ireland in recent months. In the first 15 weeks of this year, 898 cases of mumps and 48 cases of measles have been reported.  I also want to remind pregnant women that pregnancy is another vulnerable time for infection. Flu vaccine is recommended to protect you and a pertussis booster to protect your baby. Both of these vaccines are available from your GP practice.”

What are the symptoms of measles?

The symptoms include a rash  and around 10 days after you get the measles infection, the following symptoms begin to appear:

  • Cold-like symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes, swollen eyelids and sneezing
  • Red eyes and sensitivity to light
  • A mild to severe temperature, which may peak at over 40.6°C (105°F) for several days, then fall but go up again when the rash appears
  • Tiny greyish-white spots (called Koplik’s spots) in the mouth and throat
  • Tiredness, irritability and general lack of energy
  • Aches and pains
  • Poor appetite
  • Dry cough
  • Red-brown spotty rash – The measles rash appears two to four days after initial symptoms and lasts for up to eight days. The spots usually start behind the ears, spread around the head and neck, then spread to the legs and the rest of the body.

The above symptoms generally last for up to 14 days.

Measles cases in Ireland increased by 244% in 2018

According to a UNICEF report last week, there has been a 244% increase in measles cases in Ireland between 2017 and 2018.

Related: ‘In 12 hours she was dead’: Roald Dahl’s letter to anti-vaxxers following his daughter’s death

There were 86 cases in Ireland last year, up from 25 the previous year, they said.

The charity is warning of a “global spike” in the contagious disease – with 98 countries reporting a surge.

UNICEF Ireland’s Executive Director Peter Power described the figures as a “wake-up call,” saying, “We have a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine against a highly contagious disease – a vaccine that has saved almost a million lives every year over the last two decades.”


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