Cervical cancer jab plan launched
A life-saving vaccine against cervical cancer will be rolled out across the country.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) revealed the nationwide vaccination campaign will help protect more than 57,000 schoolgirls from developing cervical cancer as adults.
Dr Brenda Corcoran, of the HSE National Immunisation Office, said cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in Ireland among women aged 15 to 44.
It is hoped the vaccine will eventually save around 60 lives every year.
"Around 250 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, with around 80 deaths. The HPV vaccine will prevent at least 70% of these cases," said Dr Corcoran.
The drug - Gardasil - is free of charge and is being offered to all girls attending the first and second year of second level schools.
Dr Corcoran said Gardasil is a safe and fully tested vaccine which protects against the main cancer-causing strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is proven to cause cervical cancer.
The HSE said informed consent is a critical element of any vaccination campaign, adding that parents should receive information from verifiable, credible and unbiased sources.
Most of the vaccinations will be administered in schools by HSE immunisation teams, with some girls being invited to HSE clinics for their vaccine.
Parents or guardians will receive an information pack and consent form from the HSE, via the school, ahead of a child's vaccine.