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 review was completed and the National TB Advisory Committee (NTBAC) met to consider its findings on 16 December 2019.
My Department has been informed that the view of the Committee was that universal BCG vaccination should not be implemented at this time. The Committee agreed that the decision on whether a selective BCG vaccination programme targeting at risk groups or no BCG vaccination programme should be recommended, was outside the scope of the NTBAC and should be considered by the NIAC.
The NIAC has been asked to make recommendations to the HSE about the BCG immunisation programme. This work by the Committee was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NIAC had resumed this work and had hoped to report its recommendations on this issue to the HSE before the end of the year. However, the NIAC have been fully engaged in the planning for the COVID-19 Vaccine rollout and thus have had to defer submission of a final paper regarding the BCG immunisation until Q2 of 2021.
The outcome of these processes, once finalised, will guide my Department regarding the future provision of BCG vaccination in Ireland.