The Chief Medical Officer says she's very concerned the country is at high risk of a measles outbreak.
It follows the death of a man in his 40s in the first reported case of the disease here this year.
It's reported he died at a hospital in the Dublin and Midlands health region, after recently travelling to an event in England.
The WHO recommends a 95% vaccination rate, however, it's fallen below 90% in Ireland.
Symptoms of measles include:
- Sore red eyes that may be sensitive to light
- cold-like symptoms such as aches and pains, a runny nose, sneezing and a cough
- A temperature of 38 degrees or above, which may reach around 40 degrees
- Small greyish-white spots in your mouth
- General lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Rash, which usually appears on head and neck first and spreads to rest of body
CMO, Prof Breda Smyth, says "I'm very concerned that we are at high risk of an outbreak of measles in Ireland at the moment. We need 95% of the population to be vaccinated in order to prevent measles infection from spreading.
"Unfortunately, the uptake rate for the MMR vaccine in Ireland has fallen below 90% nationally.
"And in some counties, the rate is as low as below 80%".
Dr. Lucy Jessop, Director of Public Health at the HSE’s National Immunisation Office, says contact tracing is now underway following the man's death.
"The public health team in that particular area is working very hard to contact-trace people that would have possibly been in contact with the case when they were infectious.
"We have a lot of experience in contact tracing in measles and in other diseases but the thing with measles is you are actually infectious the five days before the rash appears so sometimes that can be a little bit difficult to trace everybody but they will be doing everything they can".
There has been a confirmed death of an adult in Ireland linked to measles infection. We need to prevent as many cases, serious illnesses and deaths as possible. Please get your MMR vaccine. See https://t.co/kQT8OUIL48 pic.twitter.com/wYCXvShlhH
— Chief Medical Officer (@CMOIreland) February 7, 2024
It's reported the HSE is considering a catch-up MMR vaccination programme for secondary schools and colleges, aimed at young people whose parents were put off the MMR jab because of a false and now discredited link with autism.
It's estimated one in five men aged 18 and 19 are not vaccinated.