An increased number of girls in Ireland are availing of the HPV vaccine this year, according to the HSE.
The HSE have launched the next phase of the HPV Vaccine Information Campaign to support parents in making an informed decision to ensure their daughters get the vaccine and get protected from cervical cancer.
The launch coincides with the return of the HSE vaccination teams to second level schools to administer the second dose of the vaccine to first year girls.
The HSE has confirmed that preliminary figures show that the majority of girls received the first dose of the vaccine in the 2017/18 programme. According to Dr Brenda Corcoran, Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office: “We have seen a national uptake rate of around 62% – eleven per cent higher than our preliminary figure from last year of 51%. That means that nearly two out of every three girls are now receiving the HPV vaccine which is really good news.”
Parents whose daughters have not had the vaccine but are still in second level schools are also being encouraged to contact their local vaccination teams and join the ‘catch-up’ programme which will be available in schools over the coming weeks.
Twenty five year old Laura Brennan from Co Clare has joined the awareness campaign to talk about her experience of cervical cancer – which for Laura is now a life limiting condition.
Laura says: “I made contact with the HSE after I had been diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer. I’m only 25 but there is no treatment that will cure my cancer, only treatment that will now prolong my life.
“I didn’t get the HPV vaccine – it wasn’t available in schools when I was a teenager so my parents didn’t have the choice. The reality is that now there is a vaccine that protects girls from getting this horrible disease. No parent wants their daughter to get cervical cancer.
“If anything good comes from my situation, I hope that parents consider this – get the facts, get informed and make the decision to get their daughters vaccinated. The HPV vaccine saves lives. It could have saved mine.”
In Ireland every year 300 women develop cervical cancer and 90 women die from cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine protects against seven out of ten cancer causing HPV virus types. They are most effective when given at the age of 12 to 13 years and will provide protection throughout adulthood.
Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, HSE National Director Strategic Planning and Transformation directed parents to the dedicated HSE website hpv.ie, which is the only Irish World Health Organization approved site that will answer queries about the vaccine.