For babies born on or after 1st October 2016, the primary immunisation schedule has changed to include two new vaccines. Remember that all vaccines are free from your GP and protect against some potentially dangerous diseases, both in your own child and in those who cannot receive vaccines for medical reasons (herd immunity means that a large percentage of protected children can stop the diseases from breaking out in the first place and spreading to vulnerable children in which a disease can have deadly consequences).
Two new vaccines
The two new vaccines protect against Meningococcal B disease and rotavirus disease. The MenB vaccine is added into the vaccines at two months, four months and 12 months. The vaccine against rotavirus (a potentially serious form of stomach bug) is delivered via drops given to your child’s mouth. These are given at two months and four months.
Do I need extra GP visits?
No extra visits to your GP or nurse are needed. The schedule consists of the BCG vaccine, which is given in maternity hospitals or HSE clinics (more on this in a minute) and five trips to the GP’s surgery – at two months, four months, six months, 12 months and 13 months. The new vaccines are simply given at the same time as the others.
Are the new vaccines safe?
The HSE assures the public that the vaccines are perfectly safe. Your child may experience a fever after vaccinations, especially the MenB vaccine. After the vaccines given at two months of age, the HSE recommends administering three doses of 2.5ml infant paracetamol, four-six hours apart; ask your GP or nurse for more details after the two-month-old vaccines. As always, if you are worried about your child in any way, consult your GP or nurse.
What is the latest with the BCG vaccine?
BCG vaccine is given to protect babies against tuberculosis (TB); however, there has been a delay with the supply of BCG vaccine throughout Europe. This is because there is only one licensed manufacturer of BCG vaccine in the EU, and this manufacturer has told the HSE that the BCG vaccine will not be delivered into Ireland until further notice. As a result, BCG vaccination clinics in HSE clinics and maternity hospitals have been postponed until new stock arrives. However, the number of cases of TB has been steadily falling in Ireland, and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), an independent expert group on immunisation, and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) have both recommended that BCG vaccine does not now need to be given routinely to all babies in Ireland. The advice is that your baby is not at risk of TB because of the delay, and that you should continue with the rest of the immunisation schedule.
Where can I get more information?
The HSE has an excellent information website at www.immunisation.ie with lots of up-to-date advice and information on the primary immunisation schedule, as well as vaccines for older children and adults.