TDs who raised concerns on vaccinations have defended their actions

Opposition TDs who have raised concerns around vaccinations have defended their actions.

TDs who raised concerns on vaccinations have defended their actions

Opposition TDs who have raised concerns around vaccinations have defended their actions.

It comes as Health Minister Simon Harris wrote to all TDs and senators calling on them to publicly support childhood immunisation programmes to combat anti-vax "scaremongering" and "populist nonsense".

Cases of measles have spiked by 200% in the last year and the HSE was forced to launch an awareness campaign following significant drop off rates in young girls getting the HPV vaccine.

In a letter sent to all TDs and senators, Mr Harris blamed "misinformation and disinformation" for the worrying drop off in children being immunised and the significant increase in cases of measles which is highly contagious and can be dangerous.

A number of TDs have previously tabled parliamentary questions to Mr Harris questioning the safety of vaccinations such as HPV and the side effects associated with it.

Mr Harris yesterday dismissed these concerns and said: "As a parent and as Minister for Health I instinctively believe that vaccination should be the norm.

"There is so much information out there today, which is great, but parents need to know where they can get reputable information and my worry that in the social media ear in which we now live that there has been misinformation and disinformation spread and that has resulted in very stark figures.

"We had 25 cases of measles in Ireland in 2017, we had 86 last year and so far in the first four months of this year we see 47 so we are seeing a very significant increase in diseases which many of us thought had nearly been confined to the history books.

"We saw with the HPV vaccine where we had a very high uptake rate and then a campaign of misinformation saw that rate drop. We are now working really hard to get it back up."

Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy, who last year asked the minister to make a statement on unexplained adverse reactions associated with the HPV vaccination, said he was representing a constituent in doing so.

"My personal view is that I think it's important that the vaccination programme is supported. I was asked by a constituent, there is a small number of people who have concerns and I never brush them aside and that's why I think research should continue."

Party colleague Marc McSharry who has also written to the minister about the HPV vaccination said he is "totally in favour" of immunisation. However he said an "adequate pathway of care" for those who do have adverse reactions should be provided.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said he had contacted the minister asking for clarity on his letter. However, he said he had tabled the parliamentary question on vaccinations after being contacted by a constituent.

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae told the Irish Examiner that he had not received the letter from Mr Harris and would not be making a comment on it or on vaccinations until he received the correspondence.

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