Roma children ‘missing out’ on vaccinations due to fears children could be taken into care — report

Roma parents may be more reluctant to have their children vaccinated as a result of the two cases last year in which Roma children were mistakenly removed from their families, according to a report.

Pavee Point, the Travellers’ rights group, yesterday published three reports into the Roma community in Ireland and its access to and use of social and healthcare services.

One of the reports, entitled ‘Challenging barriers and misconceptions — Roma maternal health in Ireland’, outlines how a parent’s fear of having their children taken into care can lessen the likelihood of children receiving vaccines.

“Follow-up home visits after birth can be understood as an opportunity for authorities to take Roma children into care or to seek payment for hospital services,” the report states.

“As a result, public health nurses often experience difficulties with tracking mothers of newborn babies when mothers make themselves inaccessible upon visits. This can mean children do not get vaccinations.”

A spokesperson for Pavee Point said the situations in Tallaght and Athlone last year, in which children were removed from their families in error only to be returned to their care shortly afterwards, would have “exacerbated” this fear.

Both cases were investigated by the Children’s Ombudsman.

The other reports published outline other issues, including the lack of reliable data available about Roma in Ireland, disadvantages in accessing education, health, employment and adequate housing, and experiences of racism, exclusion. and poverty.

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