HSE warned of “sup-optimal” uptake of measles vaccine and risk of disease spreading in crowded accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees

A HSE risk assessment warned of a high risk of measles spreading in asylum seeker accommodation and direct provision centres as uptake for the vaccine across Ireland was described as “sub-optimal”.

A presentation from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said healthcare services were likely to come under significant pressure from the highly transmissible disease, which was very likely to cause outbreaks in non-immune populations.

The risk assessment said the lowest rates of vaccination were in Counties Louth and Meath where immunisation rates were below 80 per cent while uptake of below 85 per cent was reported in Counties Sligo, Leitrim, and Donegal.

It said no local health office in the country had met the target of 95 per cent uptake of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

The slideshow said that a recent study had estimated that just over one in ten people aged eighteen to thirty-four were “non-immune” to measles.

This rose to a figure of 17.9 per cent for males that were aged either eighteen or nineteen, indicating a “significant non-immune population” among adults.

The HSE said there was an “increasing likelihood” of measles taking hold in Ireland, particularly with the extent of travel between here and the United Kingdom.