Written Answers. - Measles Incidence.

Frances Fitzgerald

Question:

631 Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Health and Children the numbers of children in the Dublin area who had measles reported in 1999 and 2000; if there is an ongoing epidemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20421/00]

The numbers of cases of measles notified to my Department in respect of the Dublin area are as follows: 1999, 99; 2000, to 30 June, 921. While a breakdown of these figures by age is not available, the great majority of cases are understood to have been in children.

With effect from 1 July 2000, health boards furnish weekly notifications of infectious diseases to the director of the National Disease Surveillance Centre, NDSC, and this includes the collection of age data. The NDSC has indicated that 150 measles cases in children in the Dublin area have been notified in the period 1 July to 23 September.

In view of the current primary immunisation uptake levels generally, I have asked the health boards to make every effort to achieve the national target of 95% in the primary childhood immunisation programme this year, and to make particular efforts in relation to MMR. The health boards indicate that a range of measures are being adopted to improve the uptake of MMR and the other primary vaccinations. These include: accelerated MMR boosters campaigns at school level; the identification and follow-up of unimmunised children in the community; targeting of groups or geographic areas where there are particular problems with uptake; general practitioners being asked to make special efforts to promote immunisation to parents; awareness campaigns to inform the public about the importance of MMR immunisation at national and regional level.
While there are indications that the present measles epidemic is being brought under control, it remains very important that the maximum number of children are immunised against the disease. I, therefore, take this opportunity strongly to urge parents in all areas of the country to ensure their children receive the MMR vaccine, which is available free of charge from their family doctor. This will ensure maximum protection against measles, mumps and rubella for individual children and the population generally.