An immunisation programme will vaccinate infants to protect them against meningitis.

October will see the start of an immunisation programme for babies against meningitis, which claimed the lives of twelve people last year and seventeen in 1990.

Minister for Health John O'Connell says the scheme will be similar to one already in operation in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Infants and children up to the age of four years will receive the meningitis vaccine in conjunction with their MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine.

An inflammation of the lining of the brain, meningitis is caused by germs that are either viral or bacterial, with the latter responsible for one in twenty deaths of those infected. Children and teenagers are the groups most at risk.

The disease can also cause learning difficulties in children, so the introduction of this vaccine is important for children up to the age of four years. Minister John O’Connell says the programme is,

A preventative measure, especially as we’re approaching winter.

The Department of Health is currently preparing an information leaflet on the symptoms of meningitis, which if diagnosed and treated early, can lead to a full recovery.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 3 August 1992. The reporter is Fionnuala Sweeney.