Varadkar must reassure worried parents on BCG vaccine – Adams

SF Jennifer & GerryLouth TD Gerry Adams has called on Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and the HSE to reassure parents worried about future supplies of the BCG vaccine which provides protection against tuberculosis (TB).

Teachta Adams said:

“The difficulties in supply of the BCG vaccine have been known by the Department of Health since 2014. Little has been done to identify alternative suppliers, nor indeed to explain the ongoing situation to anxious parents of new-borns.

“Recent responses to questions I asked of Minister Varadkar, show little real commitment to address this matter. HIQA undertook a public consultation on proposed changes to the BCG vaccination programme on 9th September to run for six weeks. At the request of the Department of Health, HIQA has evaluated changes to the infant BCG vaccination programme proposed by the National Immunisation and National TB Advisory Committees.

“While I acknowledge HIQA’s assessment will be formed based on available evidence, I note that parents’ concerns are going unheard by the Minister. Minister Varadkar admits that no vaccine is expected for months to come.

“Recent media reports give rise to more fears among parents that the BCG vaccine may be withdrawn save for selected persons. HIQA’s draft assessment itself notes that universal vaccination is not “cost-effective”.

“The Minister, his Department and the HSE need urgently to engage with and reassure parents that they are actively seeking to secure alternative quantities of the vaccine and explain what their future plans are for the administration of the BCG vaccine.”

Concerns about the BCG Vaccine availability was raised with Mr Adams when Louth Sinn Féin Councillor Jennifer Green was told her baby would not be able to avail of the vaccine until much later than recommended due to the supply issue. Cllr Green has since given birth to a baby girl.