By NewsDesk   @bactiman63

At the Health Services Executive (HSE) National Immunisation Conference last week, Surveillance Scientist from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Sarah Jackson explained the success of the rotavirus vaccine in Ireland since it’s introduction in 2016.

The organism’s characteristic wheel-like appearance under the electron microscope gives the rotavirus its name from the Latin word ‘rota,’ meaning ‘wheel.’
Image/CDC/Jessica A. Allen/Alliza Eckerd.

The number of cases of rotavirus infection reported in Ireland has fallen from 2,305 cases in 2017 to 636 cases in 2018: “Most significantly, our latest reported uptake for Rotavirus vaccine is 90% and that is how we have achieved this success.  Rotavirus infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children in Ireland under the age of five years.

“Most children will recover at home but some need to be admitted to hospital. Every year in Ireland almost 1,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital with rotavirus infection. The average length of time they spend in hospital is five days. Infants and young children can now be protected from this disease by the rotavirus oral vaccine.”

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Head of the National Immunisation Office, Dr Lucy Jessop explained, “Rotavirus is very infectious and can spread easily. It can be spread through hand to mouth contact, such as from touching toys, surfaces, dirty nappies or can be spread through the air from coughing and sneezing.  The Rotavirus vaccine was introduced for all babies born on or after 1 October 2016 in Ireland. It is an oral vaccine given at two and four months of age when they are getting their other routine vaccines at their GPs.”

Speakers at the conference also addressed the need to increase the uptake of other vaccines like the MMR vaccine.

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“We have increased the uptake of MMR vaccine in recent years and are currently at 92%. This is a very timely reminder that people need to get their vaccines on time every time for the best protection –  not only does it protect them,  it also protects those who are too young to be vaccinated. We know that 95% uptake of MMR vaccine is needed to prevent transmission”, Dr Suzanne Cotter said.

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