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Thousands of teens who didn't get MMR jab at risk

THOUSANDS of Irish teenagers, whose parents refused to have them vaccinated during the height of the measles vaccine scare, are unprotected against the disease.

Almost one-third of children were not vaccinated with the MMR jab around 2000 and 2001. They are now at risk of contracting the disease unless they've received the jab since.

Measles was linked last week to the death of a 25-year-old man in Wales, which is at the centre of a major outbreak.

Dr Brenda Corcoran, a public health specialist at the HSE, said it has been offering booster shots for this group in secondary schools since September.

"Parents and carers need to remember that children need to complete the full immunisation schedule to ensure they are adequately protected," she said.

She was speaking as a public awareness campaign was launched to mark European Immunisation Week against the background of the outbreak in Wales and the death of two babies from whooping cough in Ireland last year.

A €300,000 advertising campaign, to coincide with the drive, has also been launched, but it is being paid for by drugs company Pfizer because the HSE could not afford it.

Following the quashing of fears about the MMR vaccine, uptake recovered but it is still at 92pc rather than the 95pc needed to reduce its spread.

Prof Denis Gill, chairman of the national immunisation advisory committee, said Ireland will not see a measles outbreak on the scale currently suffered in Wales but there is no room for complacency.

Measles outbreaks were recorded in west Cork last year with 60 cases, and in Dublin's north inner city in 2011 when 250 cases of the illness emerged.

Irish Independent