Changes to HSE immunisation schedule for babies

The HSE have introduced two new vaccines for babies born after the 1st of October 2016. The two new vaccines protect againstnewborn-baby

  1. Meningitis B – the vaccine (Bexsero) protects against the majority of strains of a bacteria called Neisseria Meningitidis B which is the leading cause of meningitis in Ireland. The vaccine is given into the baby’s left thigh at 2 months, 4 months and again at 12 months.

Common side effects of this vaccine include fever, soreness at the injection site, rash, irritability and crying. Because of the high incidence of side effects, it is recommended that your baby receives liquid paracetamol (Calpol) in the surgery at the same time as the vaccine is given. This will not be necessary for the final dose at 12 months.

For babies who develop a high fever, this is likely to occur within hours of the vaccine and reach a peak at about six hours following administration. It then decreases over the next 24 hours and most will be gone completely 36 hours after the vaccine. The liquid paracetamol dose for most 2 and 4 month old babies is 60mg which amounts to 2.5ml of the standard infant Calpol preparation (120mg/5ml). The dose can be repeated 4-6 hours after the administration of the vaccine and a further dose can be given 4-6 hours later again if necessary.

  1. Rotavirus – the second new vaccine protects against a virus which causes diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and your children. The infection is very rarely fatal in this country but it does lead to a significant number of hospital admissions every year. The vaccine is given in liquid form into the baby’s mouth from where it is absorbed and stimulates immunity to rotavirus. In the new programme it will be given at 2 months and 4 months at the same time as the other vaccines. The main side effects of the rotavirus vaccines are diarrhoea and irritability.

Because it contains a live virus, caution is advised if there is a family history of diseases which affect the immune system. If you or your partner’s family have a history of immune deficiency or if any members of your family required a bone marrow transplant, please let us know before the vaccine is given.

Another rare complication of this vaccine is Intussusception. This is a rare condition where the baby’s bowel can become blocked. It is thought that for every 100,000 first doses of rotavirus vaccine given there will be only two extra cases of this condition.

A full outline of the revised schedule can be accessed by clicking here