The HSE 's assistant national director is urging anyone who has not been vaccinated for mumps and measles to go to their GP for a free vaccination, with concerns that children and students are at increased risk as the school year starts.
According to Dr Kevin Kelleher, children and students are most at risk as the new school year commences. Speaking on RTE radio's Today with Miriam O'Callaghan, he said that immunisation rates in Ireland have dropped to 91% and are as low as 80% in some parts of the country.
Dr Kelleher also added that while vaccination levels are down, the control of the two highly infectious diseases is 'very good.'
Health watchdogs have also renewed appeals to parents to make sure that their children are given the MMR vaccine to immunise them against mumps. More than 1,600 cases of the disease have already been recorded this year, with some victims in their 50s or 60s.
Outbreaks were reported in the community, schools, universities, private homes and other settings.
The country's disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), fears that as schools and universities reopen "there is a potential for increased numbers again as the close social contact in these settings can contribute to spread".
Mumps is a virus that spreads in a similar way to colds and flu, with symptoms including a fever and swollen glands although it usually passes without causing any more serious symptoms.
But in some patients it can trigger more serious illness such as swelling of the vital organs. There is no treatment and therapy is based on relieving symptoms.
Meanwhile, the symptoms associated with measles include a rash and a fever, irritation of the eyes, and coughing. Anyone with such symptoms are advised to stay at home.
"These are the most infectious diseases, one infected person can infect 10 or 20 people in a room. On a bus they could infect 15 people,"said Dr Kelleher. He also added that it is worrying that as many as between 6,000 to 7,000 people may not be fully vaccinated.
Children are routinely vaccinated at 12 months of age with a booster vaccine given in Junior Infants, and the jab is free to all children and during the outbreak period of teenagers and older adults.
For more information and advice on measles and mumps symptoms visit:
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