Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly TD, has described as startling, the fact that vaccine hesitancy is now listed as a key threat to global health for 2019, by the World Health Organisation.

Deputy Donnelly explained, “It is a sad indictment that the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines is now a growing threat to health in 2019. Just this week, following a measles outbreak in Donegal, the HSE confirmed that the number of children in Donegal being vaccinated has been dropping slightly over the past few years.

“We know that as soon as vaccination rates fall, old diseases re-emerge and this is why measles outbreaks are occurring across Ireland and Europe with more frequency at the moment.

“Vaccination is one of the most effective ways of avoiding disease. It currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved. In the era of fake news and alternative facts we need to ensure that the correct information is getting through.

“We must trust our full spectrum of Irish health professionals, the WHO, the Chief Medical Officer and the various societies working desperately hard to research vaccines and eradicate contagious diseases.

“We are poor in Ireland at preventative public health, but we must not allow vaccine hesitancy take hold in this country. The Minister must up the ante on public awareness campaigns and ramp up efforts to eliminate vaccine preventable diseases worldwide”, he concluded.