The recent outbreak of meningitis cases, including three deaths from the illness, has led to a Galway TD demanding the Government consider providing the meningitis B vaccine free to all children.
Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East, Anne Rabbitte, has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to examine the viability of providing the meningitis B vaccine, especially as the rise in the number of cases "is a major cause of concern".
While the vaccine is available to those under one year of age, Dep Rabbitte has pointed out that few children over the age of three will have been immunised for this strain as the vaccine was only introduced free of charge in 2016 for children under 12 months of age. The cost for children over that age can range from €280 to €350, a cost the TD has called "extremely prohibitive".
“It shouldn’t be the case that a child’s health could be left in jeopardy on account of the high cost of a vaccine," she said. "There are thousands of young families across Galway which could potentially be affected, and I would like to see the State examine if the option of providing the vaccine free of charge is viable. There is no question that these vaccines save lives and every child should be given an equal opportunity to receive them."