WEST Cork has one of the lowest take-up rates in the country for the meningitis C vaccine which protects against the potentially fatal disease.
One in five children in the area did not get the vaccine in the past year, despite the fact that it’s been part of the infant immunisation programme since 2000.
The average national uptake is believed be be about 85%.
The figures are from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), which also revealed that of the 11 meningitis cases reported to them since the last week in December, one was in the Cork/Kerry area.
Tragically there have been three fatalities from meningitis since December in this country.
Public health specialist for the HSE South, Dr Fiona Ryan, expects reported cases to rise in the coming weeks both nationally and locally.
The HSE has said this is not an outbreak, but is advising the public to remain vigilant and reminded parents to ensure their children are fully vaccinated ‘as per the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme.’
Drimoleague woman Fiona O’Leary last summer addressed the EU on the dangers of anti-vaccine campaigners, as well as alternative medicine.
She links the drop in the meningitis vaccine, and other vaccines including the MMR, flu and HPV, to ‘social media scaremongering’.
‘Parents are becoming anti-vaccines, anti-medication, even anti-Calpol. It’s a return to the Dark Ages and has come to the point where parents aren’t making the right decisions for their children who are getting preventable diseases.’
She said during her five years of campaigning in this area all she was seeing was ‘an increase in quackery in West Cork and a decrease in vaccines.’
Fiona, whose 20-year-old cousin died from meningitis, said: ‘I want to remind people that Dr Google isn’t real.’
Meanwhile, Cork University Hospital (CUH) has this week advised the public that a number of patients suffering with flu have required admission to the Intensive Care Unit for treatment of their symptoms.
While CUH has requested that no visitors attend the hospital during the current outbreak, an exception to this may be permitted in certain circumstances.
People with flu-like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at CUH.
The hospital is asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out-of-hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an assessment unit the following day if required.
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