Report: Roma families not vaccinating kids for fear they'll be taken into care

By Noel Baker

Roma parents may be more reluctant to have their children vaccinated as a result of the two cases last year in which Roma children were mistakenly removed from their families, according to a new report.

Traveller rights group Pavee Point published three new reports today into the Roma Community in Ireland and their access to and use of social and health care services.

One of the reports, entitled Challenging Barriers and Misconceptions - Roma Maternal Health in Ireland, outlines how a fear of having their children taken into care can lessen the likelihood of children receiving vaccines.

“Follow-up home visits after birth can be understood as an opportunity for authorities to take Roma children into care or to seek payment for hospital services,” the report stated.

“As a result, public health nurses often experience difficulties with tracking mothers of new born babies when mothers make themselves inaccessible upon visits. This can mean children do not get vaccinations.”

A Pavee Point spokesperson said the situations in Tallaght and Athlone last year, in which children were removed from their families in error only to be returned to their care shortly afterwards, would have “exacerbated” this fear.

Both cases have been investigated by the Ombudsman for Children and her report has been provided to the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

Elsewhere, the report stated that while the health concerns Roma generally present with at hospitals would be more suitable and effective to deal with through primary healthcare, many Roma have limited access to primary care services, due to a lack of access to medical cards, obstacles registering with GP services, and the cost of primary care.

See the reports at www.paveepoint.ie.

KEYWORDS: Pavee Point
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