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VIDEO CAMPAIGN 'It has never been more important to vaccinate your child'

A new video campaign aims to educate parents about vaccinating their children, writes Caoimhe Young


MUM’S LOVE: Rachel and her daughter Avril

MUM’S LOVE: Rachel and her daughter Avril

MUM’S LOVE: Rachel and her daughter Avril

The Covid-19 pandemic is still going on and, to date, we don't have a vaccine. "To find a vaccine is the scientists' mission", sings a child from the new 'Vaccines Save Lives' rap video, which forms part of the campaign launched by Dr Rachel McLoughlin, Professor in Immunology at Trinity College Dublin.

Never before have the people of Ireland been so aware of the devastating effects that a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus can have. As the search for a Covid-19 vaccine continues in earnest, we spoke to Dr Rachel McLoughlin, who has three children, about her campaign.

"What we need to remember, now more than ever, is that there are other serious diseases apart from the coronavirus, that can have harmful consequences for our children," says Rachel. "So it's really important that despite everything that's going on in the world at the moment, we bring our children for their vaccinations."

Taking her youngest daughter to get her scheduled vaccines in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic prompted Rachel to take a personal stance on the importance of protecting our children from infectious diseases.

In an effort to reach as many parents as possible with her #KeepVaccinating message, she has produced a series of motivational videos to be shared online. Not one to miss an opportunity to educate, the Trinity College professor has also produced a fun rap video to appeal to people of all ages, who now understand the far-reaching effects that a potentially deadly virus can have on our lives.

"In the midst of a global pandemic, which we now find ourselves in, the last thing you want as a parent is to find yourself with a sick child that you have to take to hospital," says Rachel.

She is eager to highlight that Covid-19 is a new virus. "We don't know everything there is to know about Covid-19 yet, like how it could potentially impact other types of diseases that are vaccine preventable. So it just makes sense to keep vaccinating our children."

For many parents, the decision to get your baby vaccinated against all of the potentially deadly infectious diseases on the childhood immunisation programme requires little thought. Some would say it's a 'no-brainer' to protect your child against the serious risk of these infections. However, the current pandemic has presented challenges to parents getting their children vaccinated against the 13 infectious diseases on the schedule, which occur at five intervals, from two months to 13 months.

Rachel is passionate about her work in vaccine research at Trinity College Dublin. She says: "The thing with vaccinations that people often forget, is that they are not just for today or for protecting ourselves. Some people may be unable to get certain vaccines due to allergies or underlying health conditions. Vaccines also protect our children's children and so on for generations, by keeping diseases that we have almost defeated from making a comeback."

Most scientists and medical professionals would call immunisation through vaccines one of the most effective health innovations since the introduction of clean water.

What is more, here in Ireland all of the vaccines recommended for children are provided free of charge. Even if you've missed an appointment due to illness or Covid restrictions, it's never too late to catch up.

The 'Vaccines Save Lives' series of videos produced by Dr Rachel McLoughlin is supported by the Health Research Board and can be viewed and shared from the HSE Ireland YouTube channel: youtube.com/HSEIreland. You can find out more information on the vaccines at immunisation.ie or by talking to your GP.

Find out about immunisations

To support the launch of the new 'Vaccines Save Lives' videos, the BabyDoc Club online parenting community commissioned research to gain insight into the knowledge-base and views of parents when it comes to their children's vaccines. Focused solely on the Childhood Immunisation Schedule that is recommended and funded by the government, the research reveals:

  • Just 60pc of pregnant mothers and mums of newborn babies feel well informed about the Childhood Immunisation Programme.
  • 35pc of parents don't know all of the illnesses their child has been vaccinated against.
  • One in four infant vaccine appointments were delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions and parental concerns, with over a third (35pc) delayed by one month or more.
  • One in five parents are worried that their child was late to get their vaccines due to Covid-19.
  • 43pc of parents feel it's important to pay to get their child vaccinated against the chicken pox virus as it falls outside of the Childhood Immunisation Programme.
  • 82pc of parents think that parents should have to prove their child has been vaccinated in accordance with the Childhood Immunisation Schedule in order to attend ECCE and school.