Don’t give us excuses, Leo: Tell us what you’re doing to rectify the BCG vaccine shortage

Our unimpressed columnist says Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s position on unavailability of vaccine to immunise babies against Tuberculosis (TB) is highly unacceptable and a ‘total cop-out’…

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar’s explanation that ‘production difficulties, delivery delays and sealing problems,’ were the reasons the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin or BCG vaccine, which immunises against Tuberculosis (TB) is currently unavailable to new-born babies in Ireland is, in my opinion highly unacceptable and a total cop-out.

  So, as a concerned parent, albeit, one who is not, nor ever again likely to become pregnant, my response to Minister Varadkar is: well what the hell are you doing to rectify the situation?

  I mean seriously Leo, don’t tell us your problems, don’t give us your whiney excuses, instead, give us your solutions because you are supposed to be in charge and there are currently a reported 50,000 babies and potentially more who are now at serious risk of not receiving this essential vaccine at the  appropriate recommended time.

  According to the ‘newborn babies may get the BCG in the maternity hospital or you can make an appointment to bring your baby to your local HSE health centre,’ meaning, on one hand, it appears, the HSE recommends you have your infant vaccinated ASAP, however, on the other…when it’s convenient, and, in an apparent,  “eh, wait till I tell ya” pathetic attempt at a half-arsed explanation, ‘the BCG vaccine stock in all areas expired at the end of April 2015 so BCG vaccination clinics in HSE Clinics and Maternity hospitals have been postponed until new stock arrives,’ (cue massive shoulder shrug), so don’t worry, ’cos sure it’ll all be grand; suck it up and see what happens.

  Ah yes readers, welcome to our health service’s PR on a FAS course.

  In fact if memory serves me correctly Leo, this time last year we were told the problems with the shortage of the BCG vaccines had, whew, ‘now been resolved,’ with the HSE stressing it would still be ‘offered to newborns and those at greatest risk.’ In addition, again, I distinctly remember that back in 2007 (8 years ago) when my own granddaughter was born, the HSE also reportedly experienced ‘difficulties,’ with the same vaccine because the only company supplying the European market had ‘regulatory’ problems. For the record, my granddaughter did receive her BCG and all other relevant vaccinations.

  Simultaneously, a statement issued by the  Department of Health last week kindly informed us, (as if we were all 5-year-olds who could be assuaged and stage-managed) that, well now, ya see, ‘other countries are experiencing similar delays in acquiring supplies of the vaccine from the Danish company – the only licensed supplier of the vaccine in the EU.” Now, how can I put it Leo love, – but, it’s like this, we don’t give a monkey’s about other countries, you are not the Minister for Health for other countries so stop trying to fob us off with your petty excuses; you may be young and handsome Sir but I’m old and irregular and pathetic cover stories won’t wash with me because, as my kids found out many years ago, you cannot pull the wool over my eyes. 

  Sooo, in light of this recent scandal, because that’s what it is, a scandal, and in order not to damage your lukewarm friendship with the electorate, let me pose the following question; nervous much? Worried much?…you should be ‘cos, if you don’t resolve this very important issue right now, as in get off your backside, pull out all the stops and  tell the manufacturers to get the finger out or better still, find another reliable manufacturer and supplier so that those who are at risk, those who are vulnerable, can receive the vaccinations they need and deserve, then I’m afraid come election time hon it’s exit stage left and cut, to you, (and the rest of Fine Gael/Labour) languishing in exile and in opposition.

  Telling us that your Department has  “no control over when BCG vaccines will be delivered by the vaccine manufacturer” and  “these supply issues will continue until at least Quarter 1 2016,” is an absolute disgrace and will go nowhere towards soothing the concerns of Irish mothers and others who are at risk of contracting tuberculosis (TB); especially those in areas like rural Roscommon who’re living on farms because it has been documented that cows can carry this disease.

  And while bovine Tuberculosis can spread to humans, I must stress here it is unlikely, but even a small threat such as breathing or inhaling air that is contaminated by the bacteria, etc. can be avoided if our Government got its act together and did its job in the way it promised it would during its long-forgotten election promises back in 2011. Remember when your boss Enda made an election pledge to “protect and defend,” our precious A&E adding the party was “committed to maintaining the services at Roscommon General Hospital.”

  Now come on Leo, you’ve got a high IQ, you’ve got a medical degree, you’ve got the smarts so stop shrieking pathetic ruses and empty promises at us; you should know when to cease treating the Irish people as if we have the attention span of a fly.

  If anyone canvassing for votes is brave enough to knock on my door, (and you’re all welcome to do so) please, a word of caution, do not feel compelled to conceal your ignorance through the use of bullsxxt…I have a big shovel (and a big mouth) and I’m not afraid to use either.