Pay Attention!

Do you have a child who was born between 2nd September 2006 and 30th June 2008? If so, they will need to receive the pneumococcal vaccine. The Health Service Executive (HSE) is presently running a Catch-Up Campaign for the Pneumococcal Vaccination for all children aged less than two years of age.  Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial disease spread by close contact with an infected person or carrier and causes pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) and it’s most common in the under-2 age group.

The HSE National Immunisation Office (NIO) has produced a range of information materials about the catch-up campaign for parents and health professionals and is also running a media campaign. Radio and print advertisements started in September asking parents of children born in particular months to attend their GP. Here is the radio announcement as broadcast last week:

“Was your child born in December 2006, January or September 2007, or April 2008?  The HSE recommends that they are vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.  Please contact your GP and have your child vaccinated now.  Visit immunisation.ie  Other children under 2 will be called at a later date.”

You can listen to the October 2008 HSE Pneumococcal Catch-Up Campaign Radio announcement here.

Did you get those dates? I hope you were paying attention! And as if that’s not complicated enough, the HSE plans to change the dates on the advertisement each month until all children of less than two years of age, have been called for vaccination.

Each time I heard this radio advertisement last week, I couldn’t believe the complicated series of dates I was hearing.  By the time the ad had finished, I was totally confused as to who should bring their children to be vaccinated and who should not. I would imagine that GP surgeries all over the country are being bombarded with calls from worried parents ringing to enquire about the vaccination.

So I had a look at the HSE website to see if the situation was any clearer there and found the following information:

“Was your child born in February 2007, March 2007, October 2008 or May 2008? If so the HSE recommends that you contact your GP and have your child vaccinated now.”

Notice anything? The dates are different. The HSE hasn’t updated it’s website in line with the advertisement.

I’d love someone to explain to me why it is that this immunisation programme has been made so ridiculously complicated for parents to follow? I’m sure there’s probably a very plausible explanation as to why the children are called in this order but there must be a simpler way to run the campaign without causing confusion and anxiety to parents across the country. Or could it be that this is exactly what was intended, to get parent’s attention? It’s much more likely that the HSE never gave a thought to the impact of their campaign. I wonder how many managers it took to dream up the scheme?

On looking at the HSE website, I noticed that the National Immunisation Office is funded entirely by the HSE and receives no funding from any external commercial source. In other words, it’s being funded by your money and mine. I bet you’re paying attention now!

2 Responses to Pay Attention!

  1. What I’m wondering is why there are so many more immunisations for children than there were when we were kids? Are there more bugs? Or are we more paranoid? Or do we need to make more money (so sayeth the pharmaceutical companies etc)? I’m really not sure how I quite feel about all these vaccines kids have to get, there just seem to be more and more and more.

  2. Steph says:

    Hi! AV

    Good question but I’m afraid I’m not qualified to answer it.

    I’m very aware that misinformation surrounding immunisation can be dangerous and therefore I suggest that all parents should make it their business to be well-informed about childhood vaccinations and if they have concerns, to discuss them with their family doctor.

    There is plenty of information available (including leaflet translations) at http://www.immunisation.ie/en/

    The above post was purely me being cynical about the HSE’s advertising campaign.

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