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Value of Vaccines 2020

The best way to prevent outbreaks is by getting vaccinated on time

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Elena Sharipova

Dr Lucy Jessop

Director of Public Health, HSE National Immunisation Office

Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, saving millions of people worldwide from illness, disability and death each year.

I believe that vaccines are the best gift we can give our children and, even better, the health service gives them to us for free. If my son’s first birthday hadn’t been on a Sunday, he would have had his 12-month vaccines on his birthday. You never know when they will be exposed to infections, so it is really important to get vaccinated as soon as they are due.

In Ireland today, vaccines are offered to protect against 14 diseases: diphtheria, haemophilus influenzae (Hib) type b, hepatitis B, HPV infection, influenza, measles, meningococcal disease (types A, B, C, W & Y), mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumococcal, polio, rotavirus, rubella and tetanus.

Vaccines protect the wider population

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a target uptake of 95% for childhood vaccines to protect everyone. We have reached the target uptake for some childhood vaccinations including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and hepatitis B vaccines; however, we have not reached the target for measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal, Hib and rotavirus vaccinations in Ireland.

When the majority of us are vaccinated we protect our children and ourselves.

When the majority of us are vaccinated we protect our children and ourselves. We also protect those who can’t be vaccinated, either because they’re too young, or because they have a weakened immune system.

There is a lot written on the internet about vaccines so sometimes it can be difficult to tell where to find accurate information. I would recommend looking at sources accredited by the WHO, with the Vaccine Safety Net (VSN) logo.

Communication with vaccine heroes

You can also talk to a health professional like your GP, pharmacist or practice nurse who can answer your questions.

We are asking everyone to be a vaccine hero, you can do this by

  1. Getting vaccinated on time and completing your vaccination schedule
  2. Sharing the facts about vaccine preventable diseases and the importance of vaccines
  3. Look for information from credible sources like and speak to a trusted health professional

Check your eligibility for the flu vaccine

It is important to remember that smallpox is the only vaccine-preventable disease that has been eradicated, so we need to keep vaccinating to prevent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

As we approach flu season, I would encourage everyone eligible for the HSE flu vaccine programme to get vaccinated to protect themselves from flu. For the first time this year we are also offering the nasal flu vaccine to all children aged two to 12 years old. Both vaccine and administration are free for those eligible for the HSE programme. ||#KeepVaccinating

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