South Kildare TD, Fiona O'Loughlin is calling on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to examine the viability of providing the meningitis B vaccine given the influx of cases in Ireland.
The Fianna Fail TD said, "The rise in the number of cases is a huge concern for many families across Kildare and the Country. Children born on or after October 1st 2016 are included in the free vaccine however, children living in the same home that were not covered for the free vaccine require the vaccine to ensure they are immunised."
On average there are over three times as many cases of the most common cause of bacterial meningitis (meningococcal) in January compared with September.
While babies and young children are most at-risk of meningitis and septicaemia, teenagers and young adults are the next most at-risk group. Meningitis and septicaemia can affect any one of any age, at any time.
Rapid identification and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia provides the best chance of survival. However it can often be missed because in the early stages the symptoms resemble many other less serious illnesses, such as flu.
Early symptoms are usually fever, vomiting, headache and feeling unwell. Limb pain, pale skin, and cold hands and feet often appear earlier than the rash, neck stiffness, dislike of bright lights and confusion. Someone unwell with meningitis or septicaemia will become rapidly worse.
"The cost on families can be too much for families and some may not have the money to give out for the vaccine. It shouldn't be a case that a child's health could be left in jeopardy as a result of the high cost of the vaccine. The Government must consider adding the vaccine for free of charge to ensure public safety and the safety of Ireland's Children. There are thousands of families across Kildare and the country who could be affected by these costs and the Minister must not ignore these calls," Deputy O'Loughlin concluded.
To find out more about the symptoms visit www.meningitis.org/symptoms or call the free helpline on 1800 41 33 4.
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