More children in Ireland are being vaccinated than ever before.

While welcoming the fact that more children in Ireland are now age appropriately vaccinated than ever, HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Suzanne Cotter said that it was still important to remind parents that children needed to fully complete the childhood immunisation schedule to be protected against a range of serious vaccine preventable diseases.child vacc

All childhood vaccines and the administration of these vaccines are free of charge to all children in the country. The early childhood vaccines are given by GPs and the booster vaccines are provided by HSE School vaccination teams in most parts of the country, with a small number of regions providing these vaccines through the GP service.

At 12 months of age 92% of Irish children are appropriately vaccinated.  This means that they have had the recommended 3 doses of the 6 in 1 vaccine.

Two vaccines are recommended for children at the time of school entry- the booster dose of the ‘4-in-1’ vaccine (combined vaccine to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio) and a dose of MMR (usually 2nd dose) vaccine. The booster doses are given in the school setting (by HSE school immunisation teams) in most HSE regions, but in some HSE regions GPs administer the vaccine to the children.

Dr Suzanne Cotter said, “The fact that more children in Ireland are now protected against vaccine preventable diseases than ever before reflects the confidence parents have in vaccination to prevent what used to be the most common infectious diseases of childhood. The work of many health professionals including GPs, practice nurses, community medicine and public health doctors and nurses needs to be recognised in bringing about the  increased uptake, all of whom support and strive to improve the national immunisation programme.

Pharmacists have an opportunity to be more involved in with vaccinations as they expand the services they already offer. The provision and delivery of vaccination services through the network of community pharmacies has occurred in other jurisdictions. In 1998, pharmacists in 25 states in the US were authorised to administer immunisations with over five million doses of influenza vaccine administered in pharmacies. By 2003, 35 states in the US had legalised the administration of vaccines by pharmacists on the basis of certain training requirements and specific protocols.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) Pharmacy Ireland 2020 interim report says; National standards and protocols for the delivery of vaccination and immunisation programmes through community pharmacy should be developed, as well as national training programmes to address the requirement for additional skills and specialisations of currently registered pharmacists.


The HSE commented, “Pharmacists can help by supporting discussions about vaccination in general and by informing their clients about the role that vaccinations play in preventing disease in children and adults. As frontline health workers pharmacists are often the source of information and guidance for the public on preventing disease and how to maintain good health. In addition pharmacists are already directly supporting the influenza vaccination programme.

Joseph Johnston