Belfast Telegraph

HPV vaccine uptake rises to 70%

The HSE has described the increase as ‘extremely encouraging’.

Vaccination teams are administering the second dose to first-year girls at second level schools across the country (PA)
Vaccination teams are administering the second dose to first-year girls at second level schools across the country (PA)

The uptake of the HPV vaccine in Ireland has reached 70% as the health service continues its attempts to eradicate cervical cancer.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed there had been an increase of 20 percentage points in the uptake of the vaccine in the past two years to 70%.

Vaccination teams are administering the second dose to first-year girls at second level schools across the country.

Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office Dr Lucy Jessop said it was “extremely encouraging” Ireland had achieved such a marked increase in such a relatively short period of time, adding the elimination of cervical cancer was now an achievable goal.

“The World Health Organisation has remarked on Ireland’s achievements and I urge all parents to ensure they get the vaccine, which is safe and effective,” Dr Jessop said.

“It has been well articulated in recent months that eliminating cervical cancer is now an achievable goal, nationally and internationally.

“If we continue on this path and continue to increase our uptake rates, we can look forward to future generations living in a world where this cancer is eradicated.”

I’m thrilled that people are listening Patient advocate Laura Brennan

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of more than 200 viruses. It is implicated in a number of cancers.

The HSE said the vaccine protects girls from developing cervical cancer when they grow up as it prevents seven out of 10 cervical cancers.

It works best when given at the ages of 12 to 13.

HPV vaccine patient advocate Laura Brennan said she was delighted the uptake rate had reached such a high level.

“That means seven in 10 of this year’s first year girls that have received the first dose of the HPV vaccine and are now due the next dose,” she said.

“I’m thrilled that people are listening – listening to the reality of what life with cervical cancer is really like and finding out for themselves that this vaccine is safe and effective and along with cervical screening.

“It’s the best tool that we have to help us move towards eradicating cervical cancer.”

Health Minister Simon Harris commended Ms Brennnan for showing such strong leadership.

“Laura’s bravery and advocacy has continued to inspire women across the country,” he said.

“Despite significant challenges including the spread of dangerous anti-vaccination myths, these figures show women are continuing to get vaccinated.

“As Laura has strongly articulated, vaccination saves lives.”

Dr Jessop reiterated the importance of parents speaking directly with the school vaccination teams, their local GPs and their local pharmacists about the issue.

“It is so important that parents access trusted sources of information and our website hpv.ie continues to be updated and continues to act as an excellent resource for everyone seeking information.”

Dr Jessop reminded parents that a catch-up facility is available for girls still in second level school.

“Anyone who may have hesitated previously can contact our schools teams and get their daughter vaccinated,” she said.

Every year in Ireland about 300 women get cervical cancer and 90 women die from it.

PA

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