By Niall Hunter-Editor
Children who have been vaccinated against
Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) are still getting
the infection, although a booster vaccination campaign against the disease
Hib infection can cause bacterial meningitis
in young children.
The uptake rate for the Hib vaccine in
the booster campaign has been lower than expected, according to public
The HSE last November launched a catch-up
booster vaccine campaign against Hib, after a number of children developed
meningitis caused by the bug despite having been vaccinated against it.
A mid-term evaluation of the booster campaign was carried out in January
and February of this year by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre
(HPSC) and the HSE. The researchers looked at Hib vaccine uptake in children
aged 1-2 years in the booster campaign.
They found that the Hib vaccine uptake
rate was a disappointing 62% and stressed that such low levels of uptake
are unlikely to achieve '‘herd immunity', in other words, protection of
a large population of children against the disease through immunisation.
The researchers also reveal that in the
first two months of 2006 there were six cases of Hib in children, three
of whom had been fully vaccinated against the disease.
They say the low uptake does not appear
to be related to problems with vaccine supply, delivery or communications.
The researchers warn that unless higher
levels of Hib vaccination are achieved additional Hib cases in young children
will be reported.
The study is published in Forum, the journal
of the Irish College of General Practitioners.