Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Ceisteanna (366)

Denis Naughten


366. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health his plans to roll out vaccinations for meningitis B to children born prior to 1 October 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26260/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is an independent committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland which is comprised of experts from several specialties, including infectious diseases, paediatrics, and public health, which makes recommendations to my Department on vaccination policy in Ireland.  Its recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practice in relation to immunisation.  NIAC continues to revise recommendations to allow for the introduction of new vaccines in Ireland and to keep abreast of changes in the patterns of disease.

On foot of a recommendation by NIAC, the Primary Childhood Immunisation Schedule was amended in 2016 to include the introduction of the Meningitis B vaccine for all babies born on or after 1 October 2016.  This change to the immunisation schedule took effect from 1 December 2016.  The first dose of the vaccine is administered to children when they reach two months of age; a second dose is administered at four months and a third and final dose at twelve months.

Meningitis B disease is most common in babies under the age of 1 year old and the scheduling of the administration of the Men B vaccine under the immunisation programme takes account of this given that there are no plans to introduce a catch-up programme for older children.

All vaccines administered through the Primary Childhood Immunisation Schedule are provided free of charge.  Ireland is the second country in Europe to make the Men B vaccine available free of charge as part of its national immunisation programme.  Those who have a medical card are eligible to have the vaccine administered by their GP free of charge.  However, the purchase of the vaccine itself is not covered by the medical card scheme.