By Justin Healy, ComeLook.org
HSE Principal Medical Official boasts of 99.4% uptake rate for BCG shot – says less parents refuse BCG shot “as they become more informed”.
Meanwhile, unexplained 60% increase in infant mortality during period after Swine Flu vaccination (Q2/2010).
€18m in ‘Inefficiency’ fines
Figures released last month show that 20 Irish hospitals were fined nearly €18m for failing an efficiency test last year. The fines are part of a ‘penalty and reward’ system operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to incentivise hospitals to become more efficient. This €18m will now be redistributed among 19 other hospitals as a reward for a good performance. One of the key areas measured is ‘immunisation rates’ with hospitals being expected to match a target uptake rate of 95% for infants aged under 12 months .
One hospital was given a ‘commendation’ at the 2010 Irish Health Care awards (in the ‘Best Public Health Initiative’ category) for recently adding an extra vaccine to the existing schedule for newborn infants. In Oct 2008, Cork University Maternity Hospital re-introduced a Neonatal BCG vaccination programme (a TB shot originally canceled in 1972) to all eligible newborn infants. Dr Catherine Murphy, Principal Medical Officer HSE South said,” Of the 15,376 newborns eligible for vaccination only 93 have refused the vaccine outright (an uptake rate of 99.4%). The number of parents who refuse has consistently decreased over time as they become more aware and more informed about the benefits of BCG vaccination”.
Ironically, a top respiratory consultant in this same Cork hospital, Dr Charles Bredin, told Irishhealth.com that he believed BCG should be discontinued as a universal vaccine. He said the vaccine had been discontinued in Northern Ireland some years ago because of doubts as to its benefit. This was why the decision was taken to stop its supply in Cork in 1972, by, he said, an ‘enlightened’ medical director. With almost a 100% level of ‘informed consent’ achieved, it’s unlikely those running the Cork Hospital BCG vaccine programme see fit to inform parents of the expert opinion of the TB specialist sitting on-campus (on the necessity of BCG vaccination).
In fact, it seems difficult to find any Irish respiratory disease experts who thinks vaccinating newborns with the BCG shot it is such a good idea. Dr JJ Gilmartin, president of The Irish Thoracic Society , is not so convinced either, stating ” It has been proven ineffective in other countries in the control of TB .” The Irish Thoracic Society is the official society of healthcare professionals involved in care of people with chronic respiratory disease in Ireland.
Infant Mortality Statistics 2008
One additional ‘metric’ the HSE could employ to validate recently increased infant vaccination incidence is the Infant Mortality statistics (which cover the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome numbers). In 2008, the HSE introduced the Hebatitis B and Pneumococcal vaccines for 2 month old infants (in addition to the BCG shot introduced in the south, previously mentioned above). During 2008 the number of deaths of infants aged ‘under one year’ was 284 compared with 230 in 2007 (despite fewer births in 2008 ) – a rise of 24% over the 2007 figure (Note the Irish Doctors’ newspaper ‘The Medical Independent’ reported this as only a ‘slight rise’).