Parents of children at a Cork primary school — where the numbers infected with tuberculosis (TB) have risen to 25 — want every child in the school to receive the TB vaccination as a matter of priority.
Five pupils of Ballintemple National School on Crab Lane have now been diagnosed with full-blown cases of TB, while a further 20 have been diagnosed with a latent form of the disease.
A further 100 children are still awaiting screening this week — so these numbers could rise even further.
Parents received a letter from the school yesterday, which stated that although only half of the school had been screened to date, 25 cases in total of both the active and latent form of the disease have been detected.
However, on contacting the HSE to enquire about vaccination parents are being told that they could be waiting anything up to two years to access a BCG vaccination for their child.
Automatic neo-natal BCG vaccination only resumed in the HSE south in 2008 after a gap of 36 years.
There are currently more than 4,500 older children on a waiting list for BCG in this region.
Cllr Laura McGonigle and Deputy Deirdre Clune are calling for every child in the Ballintemple school to be vaccinated now as a matter of priority.
Cllr McGonigle said: “Many children returning to school next week have been left exposed to the TB virus, because of a gap in services in Cork.
“I think as a result of this most recent outbreak, the children in Crab Lane school need to be prioritised for the BCG vaccine.
“Parents I have spoken to have expressed huge concerns at being added to the end of the vaccination waiting list, which means it could be up to two years before their children will be offered the vaccine,” she said.
Fine Gael TD Deirdre Clune has called for a national review of all TB services.
“The HSE’s head of health protection, Dr Kevin Kelleher, this week called for the national TB screening programme to be expanded.
“A similar recommendation was made in a report earlier this year, but has still not been acted upon,” she said.
Public health doctor Dr Margaret O’Sullivan, who is heading up the outbreak control team, said the BCG vaccination status of each child at the Ballintemple school will be reviewed when the screening process is over, but for now the priority is to screen all the children.
Article courtesy of The Evening Echo newspaper.