In 2013, a joint recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the National TB Advisory Committee proposed moving from a universal neonatal BCG vaccination programme to a selective BCG vaccination programme targeting high risk groups only.
Following this, the Department of Health requested the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a Health Technology Assessment. HIQA reported in 2015 and noted that selective vaccination was more effective and less costly than universal vaccination.
Given that both reports predate the discontinuation of vaccine supply, the HSE were then requested ( in January 2019) to undertake an updated review of the epidemiology of TB in Ireland, considering the public health impact of having no BCG vaccination since April 2015.
The absence of BCG in Ireland since 2015 has not led to an increase in TB cases in young children, and the overall incidence of TB continues to decline. The number of cases of TB decreased from 358 in 2012 to 222 in 2022. Based on this data Ireland is classed as a low TB incidence country.
The HSE implements national vaccination programmes based on recommendations from NIAC and guidance from the Chief Medical Officer. Guidance has been received from the CMO and under the auspices of the National TB Advisory Committee the HSE is now forming a group of experts to consider the NIAC guidance and produce a plan to implement a selective BCG vaccination programme, in a safe and timely manner.
This page was updated on 21 March 2023