Free meningitis B jab only for babies born from October
Published 28/09/2016 | 02:30
Thousands of babies will miss out on a free vaccine to combat the deadly B strain of meningitis.
The HSE confirmed to the Irish Independent that the vaccine will only be given free to babies born on or after October 1 this year.
It means there will be no catch-up offered to babies born before this date.
If parents whose babies were born before that date want to avail of it they will face paying more than €600 for the full round of jabs.
The long-awaited roll-out of the vaccine is due to be announced shortly and is expected to begin in December.
It will be added to the regular set of jabs given to infants.
The vaccine against rotavirus, a common cause of diarrhoea and sickness, will also be given to babies in two doses as part of the new scheme.
Around 200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia are reported in Ireland every year.
Meningitis B, a highly aggressive strain, is very serious and should be treated as a medical emergency.
If the infection is left untreated, it can cause severe brain damage and infect the blood, and in some cases it can be fatal.
The development of a safe and effective meningitis B vaccine is the culmination of more than 20 years of research.
The vaccine is thought to provide 73pc protection against meningitis B, which should significantly reduce the number of cases.
The vaccine can be administered to infants aged two months or older, by itself or in combination with other childhood vaccines.