Better data collection by health boards is required for authorities to get a clear picture on the Department of Health's three in one vaccination scheme for children.
For most children, immunisation is just another milestone on the road to growing up. But in Ireland it is thought that up to thirty per cent of babies have not received any vaccines at all.
Figures released from the Department of Health suggest that at best just seventy to seventy five per cent of children born here have completed the three in one vaccination course for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) target for vaccine uptake is ninety per cent, which according to Wexford general practitioner (GP) Dr Peter Harrington means that
We are significantly behind now.
At a vaccine seminar held by the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association Dr Harrington told delegates that the vaccine uptake is probably higher than seventy five per cent. The current vaccination scheme has been in operation for two years but health boards are unable to provide accurate figures because not all GPs have informed the Department of Health about immunisations carried out.
Dr Harrington has called for improved data collection in health boards and better immunisation registers in GPs' surgeries. He also emphasised the need for general practitioners to issue reminders to parents to complete the vaccination course for their children,
The message…for parents, that one dose is not enough.
The Department of Health has stated that administrative difficulties emerged when the updated vaccination scheme was launched, but is confident that the target level of ninety five per cent will be achieved.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 2 October 1997. The reporter is Ingrid Miley.