‘Childhood immunisation’ Living Well campaign launched’

A new campaign focussing on the importance of childhood immunisations has been launched in pharmacies across Northern Ireland.

The ‘childhood immunisation’ campaign highlights the importance of vaccination and the protection provided by the childhood immunisation programme. The campaign is running in community pharmacies throughout August and September as part of the Living Well service.

Living Well is offered in over 500 pharmacies across Northern Ireland and provides information and advice on public health issues. It is delivered in partnership with the Public Health Agency (PHA), Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI), and the Department of Health (DoH).

Geraldine Mallon, Immunisation Programme Manager, PHA said: “The PHA strongly recommends that babies and children are vaccinated according to the Routine Childhood Immunisations Schedule. Vaccination rates have seen a slight decrease over recent years so it is important vaccination coverage is improved as soon as possible to help prevent the spread of avoidable serious and sometimes deadly diseases such as measles and polio.

“If you are unsure if your child is up to date with vaccinations the easiest way to check is to look at your child’s red book or speak to your health visitor or GP. If your child has missed a vaccination, please contact your GP practice to book an appointment as soon as you can to make sure they have maximum protection against disease.”

Vaccination is the most important thing you can do to protect your child against ill health. After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention in the world for saving lives, promoting good health and preventing serious illness.

Due to the high number of children receiving vaccinations in Northern Ireland over the past number of decades, many serious childhood infectious diseases are rarely heard of. Recently, however, vaccination rates have seen a slight decrease. It is crucial vaccine uptake remains high in Northern Ireland to prevent many of these serious diseases returning from parts of the world where they still occur. If this happens, children living in Northern Ireland who are not vaccinated will be at risk of these infections and potentially life-changing complications, even death.

Ronan Warnock, community pharmacist at Tempo Pharmacy said: “Immunisation is important for children because it helps provide immunity before exposure to potentially life-threatening diseases. Immunisation has helped rid the world of some very serious debilitating diseases, smallpox, for example, has now been eradicated thanks to vaccines.

“Parents with queries about any aspect of their child’s immunisations are welcome to call in to any of the participating pharmacies for an informal chat to find out more about the childhood immunisation programme.”

Vaccination is like a protective shield. Vaccines work by training your body’s immune system to make antibodies, which are proteins that help fight infection. If you are re-exposed to the disease in the future, your immune system ‘remembers’ the disease and quickly destroys it before you become unwell. The Childhood immunisation campaign encourages parents and guardians to have their babies and children vaccinated according to the routine childhood immunisation schedule. This will give them maximum protection against disease.

For more information, call into your local community pharmacy and pick up a free Immunisation protects leaflet.

Notes to Editors

Geraldine Mallon, Immunisation Programme Manager with PHA, Ronan Warnock, community pharmacist at Tempo Pharmacy, and pharmacy assistants Florence Campbell and Bernie Wright.

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