Apr 16, 2024

Irish Measles Cases Prompt Pop-Up Campus Vaccination Clinics

Trinity students have been offered a free measles vaccine at clinics held by the HSE.

Alex PayneAssistant Editor

In an email to all Trinity College Dublin (TCD) students and staff, first on March 19th, the Medical Director of the College Health Service David McGrath said: “In response to a number of cases of measles on the island of Ireland over the past few weeks, the HSE [Health Service Executive] is providing a MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) catch up vaccination clinic on campus on Thursday 21st March.”

The clinic was for all students and staff born after 1978, “who may not be fully vaccinated” and was held in the Exam Hall on campus. McGrath also said: “If you missed the MMR vaccine when you were a child, you can get the vaccine at this clinic. If you are not sure if you have had the MMR vaccine, you can still get the vaccine now to make sure you are protected. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are necessary to be considered fully vaccinated.”

“Measles is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious complications, such as seizures, pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and even death. MMR vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others from measles,” he concluded.


The March 21st clinic was followed up by one on Wednesday April 3rd, confirmed in another email from McGrath on April 2nd, and this time was held in the Atrium on campus.

The funding for the MMR vaccine-drive by the HSE was confirmed in a Department of Health press release on March 8th 2024: “Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced that the government has agreed funding for an MMR (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine) catch-up vaccination programme.”

“This catch-up programme has been approved in response to a rise in measles cases in the UK and Europe. The Health Service Executive (HSE) will now begin to outline the programme details.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “I would encourage all those eligible for MMR vaccination to come forward and to avail of the opportunity to be protected during a time when measles cases are on the rise internationally and the risk of transmission of measles in Ireland is high due to lower MMR uptake.”

“It is very important that we protect ourselves and those around us from the risks posed by this highly contagious viral disease.”

Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth said: “Measles is a highly infectious disease which can cause serious complications, particularly in children under one year of age, pregnant women, and the immunosuppressed.”

“The only protection against measles is vaccination, and MMR vaccine uptake in Ireland is currently too low to prevent measles from spreading. In serious cases, complications can include ear infections, pneumonia, febrile seizures and inflammation of the brain or encephalitis. It can also lead to death.”

“Vaccination protects all of us, and particularly those who are vulnerable. With the recent rise in measles cases in the UK and Europe, I am urging all eligible persons who have not been vaccinated to avail of this opportunity to protect ourselves and those around us.”

The HSE also reported: “MMR uptake in Ireland is currently suboptimal and less than the 95% target set by the World Health Organization (WHO).”

In a statement to the Irish Independent, Trinity College Dublin immunologist Professor Kingston Mills said measles is a highly transmissible virus and added: “Very often in universities it can spread quickly because of the proximity of people. We need 90 to 95 per cent coverage of the MMR vaccine for herd immunity. It is a difficult one to contain once it gets into a non-immunised population.”

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