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Immunisation should remain a top priority for parents


School Health Team

This World Immunisation Week (24-30 April) our School Health Team is supporting the Public Health Agency (PHA) in reminding parents that vaccination should remain a priority, particularly in light of the increase in whooping cough and measles cases.

World Immunisation Week aims to highlight the collective action needed to improve vaccination uptake and promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.

Louise Flanagan, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said:

“Ensuring that vaccination remains a top priority is vital if we are to protect our children. Both measles and whooping cough have experienced a resurgence and it is children who are at greatest risk. Immunisation is the safest and most effective way of protecting against serious diseases.”

There has been an increase in cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in Northern Ireland in recent months. It is a highly contagious and sometimes serious bacterial infection.

There are also a growing number of measles cases in the UK and Europe. So far this year, four cases of measles have been diagnosed in Northern Ireland, the first to be confirmed since 2017.

It is possible to help prevent these diseases with vaccination. That is why it is extremely important that parents get their children vaccinated as part of the childhood vaccination programme.

Pregnant women are also offered the pertussis vaccine, between 16 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, as this will help protect their baby from getting whooping cough in the weeks after birth.

Ms Flanagan continued:

“The PHA strongly recommends that babies and children are vaccinated according to the routine childhood immunisations schedule. It is important vaccination coverage is improved as soon as possible to help prevent the spread of avoidable serious and sometimes deadly diseases such as measles.

“If you are unsure if your child is up to date with vaccinations the easiest way to check is to look at your child’s ‘red book’ or speak to your health visitor or GP. If your child has missed a vaccination, please contact your GP practice to book an appointment as soon as you can to make sure they have maximum protection against disease.

“After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention in the world for saving lives and promoting good health, and therefore one of the most important things that any parent can do is get their child vaccinated and encourage them to continue this throughout their lifetime.”

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