Minister for Health Simon Harris has revealed he will research the possibility of banning healthy, unvaccinated children from crechès and schools.
His admission comes weeks after children in Italy were told not to attend school unless they could prove they had been properly vaccinated, following a surge in measles cases in the country.
Italian officials have since said that vaccination rates have improved since it was introduced.
In the US, meanwhile, a judge recently reversed a decision by New York county to ban unvaccinated children from schools and other public areas including parks.
Responding to a doctor on Twitter who had called for a “bold step” in banning healthy, unvaccinated children from crèches and schools, Minister Harris said he “instinctively agreed”.
He added that there may be “constitutional issues” and pledged to conduct research on the issue.
Speaking to The Echo about vaccine hesitancy, Dr Anne Moore, senior lecturer in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at UCC, said that compulsory vaccination may not be the best way forward.
“I think forcing someone to do something is never the best way to do something in the community, it never really has the desired effect,” she explained.
“One of the issues in the likes of California, which is a very educated state, is people thinking they know best when it comes to vaccines because they read something on the internet, and that leads to a low rate of vaccine uptake.
“Then in Alabama, which may not be as educated, has a very high uptake in vaccines,” added Dr Moore.
“We have to have acceptance from people that this is the right thing to do.
“For some people, they need to understand the importance of doing it and then decide as an independent person.
“If you look through history, making things mandatory is not always the way forward.
“If you take the smallpox vaccine in Ireland in the 1920 which was introduced as mandatory, there was a huge push back against that.
“People really rebelled against it asking why they were being forced to get it.
“That then had a knock-on effect on other vaccines coming in in the 1920s and 1930s as people were forced to get the smallpox one and questioned getting the others which weren’t mandatory.”