The BCG vaccine is given to protect babies against tuberculosis (TB). It is important to note that the number of cases of TB in Ireland is low. A total of ten cases were reported in the 0-14 age group in 2019.
As of 2015, most European countries did not give the BCG vaccine routinely to all babies (Dierig et al, Vaccine, 2015).
In April 2015, due to a lack of vaccine from the sole EU supplier, the BCG vaccine became unavailable in Ireland. In 2015, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended that the BCG vaccine does not need to be given to all children in Ireland. The Heath Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published a Health Technology Assessment of BCG vaccine in Ireland in December 2015. This also concluded that BCG vaccination does not need to be given to all children in Ireland.
The HSE were requested, in 2019, to undertake an updated review of the epidemiology of TB in Ireland, considering the public health impact of having no BCG vaccination since April 2015. The intention is that this review will be used to inform an updated recommendation to my Department regarding the future provision of BCG vaccination in Ireland. Once the recommendation to my Department is received and considered, the Department will issue an instruction to the HSE on the future provision of BCG vaccination in Ireland.