Press release

Childhood immunisation rates declining and whooping cough increasing in Ireland

Published: 19 April 2024

HSE urges parents to ensure their babies and children avail of scheduled vaccinations. The vaccine schedule is at two, four, six, 12 and 13 months available from your GP.

Ahead of European Immunisation Week, the HSE has launched a campaign to highlight the importance of immunisation in protecting babies and children against serious diseases. Diseases such as measles and whooping cough are re-emerging in Ireland.

Since 2020, the uptake of primary childhood immunisation has declined across all vaccines, including whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella, polio, meningitis and diphtheria and as a result we are seeing a re-emergence of some of these diseases. HPSC figures report 48 cases of pertussis or whooping cough and 16 laboratory-confirmed measles cases in Ireland this year.*

Dr Lucy Jessop, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Director of the National Immunisation Office, HSE said:

“We are appealing to parents to check their children’s vaccination status and book appointments if their children have missed any immunisations. By getting your baby vaccinated on time you are giving them the best protection against diseases like meningitis, measles and polio. Five GP visits, at two, four, six, 12 and 13 months, will complete your baby’s vaccination schedule, ensuring your baby has important protection from these potentially serious vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Dr Chantal Migone, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the National Immunisation Office said; “Preventable childhood infections can have a huge impact on a child’s life. They can miss out on education due to time spent unwell, be hospitalised, or even have life-long complications. Babies are especially vulnerable to these serious infections, and that’s why it’s important to vaccinate them on time when they need it most. If you’re not sure if your baby has had all their recommended vaccines, your GP or GP nurse will be able to give you advice.  You can also check your child’s Immunisation record from your HSE Local Health Office.

If you have an older child in junior infants or first year of secondary school and you’re not sure if they have received their school vaccines, you can also contact the HSE School Immunisation team, who will check your child’s record and advise you about the vaccines your child may have missed.”

Pregnant women are also encouraged to get the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine at 16-36 weeks of pregnancy. The vaccine is available for free from participating GP practices. Getting the vaccine means pregnant women will be protected against whooping cough, and this vital immunity will protect their newborn baby during their earliest, most vulnerable months before they can be vaccinated themselves.

For further information about the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme visit

For information about the whooping cough vaccine visit

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