Major article on attitudes to meningitis in Ireland published
02 April 2014
We are delighted that findings from our commissioned nationwide survey in Ireland by Meningitis Research Foundation have been published in the current edition of Nursing in General Practice. The survey explores parental and health professional attitudes towards vaccinations and knowledge about meningitis.
The findings of this survey indicate that meningitis creates a high level of concern for both parents and health professionals, yet some parents still delayed completing the vaccination schedule, leaving their child unprotected at a period when they are most at risk. Following a change to the immunisation schedule in 2008, uptake of vaccines due at 13 months fell to as low as 80% in some parts of Ireland.
Vaccines against Hib, meningococcal serogroup C and some types of pneumococcal have dramatically reduced the incidence of the disease but meningitis has not ‘gone away’. Ireland still has the highest rates of confirmed cases of Invasive Meningococcal Disease in Europe, now predominately caused by meningococcal serogroup B for which there is currently no vaccine in the Primary Immunisation Schedule. However worryingly over a third of parents mistakenly believed that the current vaccination schedule protected their child against all forms of meningitis.
On a more positive note recognition and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia has improved with 65% of the GPs surveyed confident that they could recognise the early signs of meningitis but prevention remains critical in reducing the disease burden. There is an ongoing need for tailored information about vaccination and meningitis at a national level and GPs and Public Health Nurses remain the key people that parents turn to for advice or information. They will be critical in ensuring good uptake rates of immunisation and will also play a vital role in successfully introducing any changes to the current schedule.
Key findings from this survey will be distributed to GPs in Ireland in the coming weeks.See the current edition of Nursing in General Practice