Children's jabs will continue to be voluntary - HSE
Published 14/04/2015 | 02:30
Irish parents will continue to be able to make up their own minds on whether they vaccinate their children against disease.
The Health Service Executive will not be following the "no jab, no pay" policy of Australia - which means parents lose benefit payments if they fail to consent to their children getting jabs to protect them from diseases like measles.
A HSE spokeswoman said that Irish parents can continue to consent to vaccinations for children up to the age of 16.
Last year, 93pc of children here had the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at 24 months. This is the highest national uptake rate recorded and compares with 2001, when uptake was 69pc at 24 months.
The figure relates to national take-up but there remain pockets, including socially disadvantaged areas, in which vaccination rates are below target.
The MMR vaccination rate dropped after it was wrongly linked to autism.
Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said that their rules would soon be substantially tightened. He said there would only be a small number of religious and medical exceptions to the new rules - supported by the Labour opposition and due to come into effect in early 2016.
"It's a very important public health announcement, it's a very important measure to keep our children and our families as safe as possible," he said.
The prime minister said that his government was "extremely concerned" about the risks posed to the rest of the population by families who choose not to immunise their children.
Anti-vaccination campaigns have been gaining ground in some Western countries in recent years - coinciding with a resurgence in preventable childhood diseases like measles.