Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has called on the Health Minister, Simon Harris, to examine the viability of providing the Meningitis B vaccine free to all children, given the recent outbreak of meningitis. Three people have died from the disease in the past three weeks. Deputy Rabbitte said:
The recent rise in the number of cases of Meningitis B is a major cause of concern for parents here in Galway and right across the country. No child over the age of three will have been immunised for this strain as the vaccine was only introduced free of charge in 2016 for children under 12 months of age. While I welcome the fact that the vaccine is available for the under one’s, the cost for children over that age can range between €280 – €350, which is extremely prohibitive, especially if there is more than one child to be immunised. It shouldn’t be the case in this day and age that a child’s health could be left in jeopardy on account of the high cost of a vaccine. There are thousands of young families across Galway who could potentially be affected, and I would like to see the State examine if the option of providing the vaccine free of charge is viable.
Deputy Rabbitte concluded:
It’s worrying that the take up rates for all meningitis vaccines have fallen slightly in recent years but we can all do our bit to spread awareness of the importance of immunising children and young people. There is no question that these vaccines save lives and every child should be given an equal opportunity to receive them.