Written Answers. - Vaccination Programme.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

318 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the situation where some parents are sending their children to have the measles vaccines administered individually in the United Kingdom. [27748/01]

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

319 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the situation where general practitioners are being forced to import measles vaccines. [27749/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 318 and 319 together.

The purpose of the primary childhood immunisation programme is to protect the child population against a range of potentially serious infectious diseases. MMR vaccine is available free of charge from family doctors under the primary childhood immunisation programme and there is no provision for children to receive separate measles, mumps or rubella vaccinations under this scheme. The MMR vaccine has been demonstrated to be both safe and effective. On the basis of currently available information, there is no evidence that giving each of the component vaccines separately has any greater benefit than the combined vaccines. Splitting the MMR vaccine into separate components would involve extra injections for children and would cause both children and the people with whom they come in contact to be exposed to these potentially serious diseases for a much longer period of time.

The information currently available to my Department is that separate measles or mumps vaccines are not available here. With regard to public concern about the MMR vaccine, the expert advice available from national and international bodies, including the WHO and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is that the MMR vaccine is safe and effective. In addition, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children in its report on childhood immunisation found no evidence of a proven link between MMR and autism and no evidence that the separate vaccines are any safer than the combined MMR vaccine.
General practitioners are aware of the contra-indications to the recommended childhood immunisations and parents should discuss any concerns they may have with their general practitioners before making a decision about their child's immunisation. I am not aware of any general practitioners being forced to import measles vaccine as MMR vaccine is available free of charge to general practitioners from health board supplies.