HSE school vaccination programme commences this month

The HSE is calling on parents to continue to protect their children from preventable diseases such as measles, whooping cough, meningitis and HPV amongst others, as the HSE immunisation programme commences in schools nationwide from 27th September.

Dr Lucy Jessop, Director of Public Health, HSE National Immunisation Office explains: “Schools will be sending home immunisation consent packs for both first year students and Junior Infants. We would ask parents to keep an eye out for these and urge them to return these completed to the school, consenting to vaccination of their child. A parent or legal guardian can sign the consent form. Vaccination is vitally important to protect children from preventable diseases such as measles, whooping cough and meningitis amongst others.”

If a parent or guardian has consented for their child to receive 4 in 1, MMR, HPV, Tdap or MenACWY since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but didn’t get their child vaccinated due to restrictions or having to self-isolate / cocoon, they can still be vaccinated. They can contact the school team to arrange an appointment. Contact details are available on the HSE website .

“No interval is needed between getting the Covid-19 vaccine and a school vaccine. We would like to assure parents that it is completely safe for your child to receive these vaccinations close together or even on the same day.” continues Dr Jessop.

When a child is in Junior Infants, they will be offered two vaccines: the 4 in 1 booster to protect against diphtheria, polio, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis); and a second dose of the MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.

All students entering first year of secondary school will be offered a tetanus, low dose diphtheria and low dose pertussis (whooping cough), (Tdap) non live booster vaccine and a booster dose of the Meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) non live vaccine which protect teenagers from life-threatening meningococcal group A, C, W and Y infection. The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) non live vaccine will also be offered. The HPV vaccine protects against almost all cases of cervical cancer, seven out of 10 vaginal and five out of 10 vulval cancer, nine out of 10 HPV related anal cancers and nine out of 10 cases of genital warts. Two doses of the HPV vaccine are given usually given at 0 and 6 months.

School vaccines are normally given in schools by HSE school vaccination teams. The HSE school vaccination programme may need to be done in a different venue or may be delayed because of Covid-19. The HSE will try to keep these changes to a minimum.

In Ireland, all the recommended vaccines given in the school's immunisation programme are free.