Q& A

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - MIND YOURSELF -

II am seven months preg­nant and am very con­cerned about the out­break of measles in Ire­land re­cently. I moved her re­cently from Aus­tralia and am amazed by the amount of peo­ple who don’t seem to vac­ci­nate their chil­dren. I had all my bloods done at the hos­pi­tal so as­sume that my

MMR is up to date, but what hap­pens af­ter my baby is born? When will they re­ceive their measles vac­ci­na­tion? Do they need more than one for im­mu­nity?

Do I have to keep them in­doors un­til they have full im­mu­nity? N re­cent weeks, seven cases of measles have been re­ported in north Dublin and Meath. This is very con­cern­ing, as measles is a vac­cine-pre­ventable ill­ness. Vac­ci­na­tion is of­fered free to all chil­dren. In the USA in 2015 an in­fec­tion orig­i­nated in Dis­ney­land Cal­i­for­nia that ul­ti­mately caused 170 in­fec­tions spread­ing to six states. All the cases here and in the USA oc­curred in chil­dren who had not been vac­ci­nated.

In medicine we talk about herd im­mu­nity. This refers to the per­cent­age of peo­ple that need to be vac­ci­nated in or­der to con­tain the spread of in­fec­tious dis­eases. Measles is highly con­ta­gious and a herd im­mu­nity of 95pc is con­sid­ered ideal. In Ire­land in 2017 so far we have had a 92pc up­take of the measles vac­cine. This is not bad, but we can do bet­ter.

There will al­ways be cer­tain peo­ple who can­not be vac­ci­nated due to ill­ness, age or other con­di­tions, but un­for­tu­nately there are also peo­ple who choose not to vac­ci­nate their chil­dren. Thank­fully we don’t see too many cases of vac­cine-pre­ventable ill­ness any­more, but the flip side of that is that due to this peo­ple for­get how se­ri­ous these ill­nesses can be.

One in four peo­ple in­fected with measles will re­quire hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion. Those un­der five and over 20 are most at risk of com­pli­ca­tions. In 2016, there were 89,780 measles-re­lated deaths globally. The ev­i­dence for vac­ci­na­tion is very strong. There has been an 84pc drop in death from measles since 2000 with in­creas­ing vac­ci­na­tion up­take. All preg­nant moth­ers in Ire­land are checked for im­mu­nity to measles. As your im­mu­nity hasn’t been dis­cussed, do check this at your next ap­point­ment.

If you are im­mune then your im­mu­nity does pass to the baby through the pla­centa. These IgG an­ti­bod­ies will pro­tect your baby dur­ing preg­nancy and af­ter birth. This is called pas­sive im­mu­nity. It is strong­est in the first

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