Cork doctors are concerned about a possible increase in MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) cases this winter that would impact an already embattled health sector.
Earlier this year, The Echo revealed that Ireland’s first rubella case in over a decade had been confirmed in Cork.
Meanwhile, there have been several mumps outbreaks in recent years along with an increase in the number of measles cases both in Cork and across Ireland.
Cork doctors have highlighted the importance of the MMR vaccine as winter looms with the possibility of a Covid-19 second wave and severe flu season.
Cork GP and former Lord Mayor, Dr John Sheehan admitted that the prospect of an increased measles, mumps and rubella cases coming into winter is a “real worry”.
“In order to reduce the risk of an outbreak happening the vaccination rate has to get up above 95% so there aren't enough unvaccinated people to allow illnesses to spread.
“Unfortunately, with all the impact of Covid-19 on vaccines, there is a real fear that vaccination rates will remain low and that this problem is being stored up, ready to hit us further down the line,” he added.
“It’s good to see vaccinations getting back to normal and that people are catching up.
“We struggled to get the vaccination rate up to 95% at the best of times.
“With something like Covid now that has seen the vaccination rate drop further, we’re running the increased risk of more outbreaks, particularly in more vulnerable communities.
“It is a genuine concern heading into the winter in particular.”
Veteran consultant in emergency medicine, Dr Chris Luke said: “It is more important than ever that children and adults have all the necessary and recommended vaccines that they can.
“We must take advantage of the benefits of vaccination which are enormous and proven over many, many years.
“We have already seen the decline in MMR vaccine uptake lead to a return of mumps and measles, which is shocking and unnecessary,” he added.
“The health system really needs people to take up the offer of vaccination.”
The HSE announced in July that it would be running a catch-up immunisation programme in Cork and Kerry, which would see more than 13,000 junior infants and first year students invited for catch-up vaccines.
The clinics began on Monday July 13.