I am calling on the HSE to redouble their efforts to screen all the children in Ballintemple National School as quickly as possible to allay parent’s and children’s fears. But all it is absolutely necessary that the BCG vaccine is offered to all pupils at Crab Lane as a matter of urgency.
Having spoken to a number of the parents with children in Crab Lane again this week, who received a further update from the HSE, the following information has come to light:
• Just half of the school has been screened to date (i.e. 120 of 220 pupils)
• five children with full-blown TB and 20 with a latent form of the disease have been diagnosed
• three staff members were referred for consultant respiratory physician review as a precaution
I want all the children in Crab Lane to be offered the BCG Vaccine as a matter of priority.
Many children returning to school next week have been left exposed to the TB virus, because of a gap in services in Cork. I think as a result of this most recent outbreak, the children in Crab Lane School need to be prioritised for the BCG vaccine. Parents I have spoken over the past number of days and weeks have expressed huge concerns at being added to the very end of the vaccination waiting list, which means it could be up to two years before their children will be offered the BCG vaccine.
The enormity of the situation I feel has not yet been fully realised by the HSE. It is quite concerning that nearly two weeks after the public were made aware of the issue, less than half the children at the school have been screened. This is unacceptable, given the anxiety that over one hundred families are experiencing as they wait to be called for the Mantoux test.