Immunise your children, say experts
Health chiefs have stressed the need for immunisation after the measles epidemic in Wales and death of two babies from whooping cough last year.
Measles outbreaks were recorded in west Cork last year with 60 cases, and in Dublin's north inner city in 2011 when 250 cases emerged.
Dr Brenda Corcoran, of the HSE National Immunisation Office, said 480 cases of whooping cough were registered in 2012, which claimed the lives of two babies.
She said the infants were too young to vaccinate and contracted whooping cough from an older sibling or relative.
Dr Corcoran said: "Parents and carers need to remember that children need to complete the full immunisation schedule to ensure they are adequately protected. Getting these diseases presents a much greater risk than the minor side effects from immunisation.
"We often forget how serious these are, thanks largely to vaccines, because we don't see them nearly as much as we used to. However, they can cause serious illness and death."
Three children died during the last major measles outbreak in Ireland 13 years ago, when 1,600 cases were reported. Another 11 children were hospitalised, with 13 treated in intensive care.
Meanwhile, thousands of children have received the MMR jab over the last month in Wales amid rising concern at the rocketing rate of measles, which is suspected of claiming the life of a man.
Health Minister James Reilly marked European Immunisation Week by launching a new public awareness campaign. Developed by Pfizer Healthcare Ireland it involves television, radio and bus shelter adverts.
The minister said: "Vaccination is now recognised as one of the most successful and effective public health interventions for saving lives and promoting good health. Prevention is a key goal in healthcare and the ability of vaccines to prevent illness and death associated with many serious diseases is one of the success stories of scientific innovation."