Review of the National Immunisation Programme schedule
The National Immunisation Programme (RVP) was designed to provide protection from serious infectious diseases. This includes the protection of individuals in vulnerable groups, herd immunity and/or the eradication of serious infectious diseases. The Health Council reviewed the RVP schedule at the request of the State Secretary for Health, Welfare and Sport. The Council concludes that all of the vaccines contribute to the programme’s goals and recommends that they all be retained. However, a number of vaccines could be shifted in the schedule. The proposed adjustments would have no effect on the total number of times that children receive injections under the RVP. The Council believes that these adjustments would result in the optimisation of the immunisation programme. Accordingly, the Council does not consider it desirable to allow the option of skipping certain RVP vaccinations or offering a choice of ages at which injections can be given. That could lead to reduced protection for both individuals and groups and more outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. However, the Council recommends raising the level of awareness of certain vaccinations which are not included in the RVP, but which can offer health benefits to individuals, and making them more accessible. Furthermore, the Council recommends exploring the merits of catch-up vaccinations for young adults who have missed certain RVP vaccinations, as already happens with vaccination against HPV.