HPV vaccine advocate Laura Brennan has earned high praise for her work encouraging girls to get the jab.

The HSE has today confirmed that the uptake rate for the HPV vaccine is at 70%, marking an increase of 20 percentage points in just over two years.

The boost has been partly attributed to Laura Brennan, a 26-year-old Clare woman with terminal cervical cancer.

Laura led an information campaign in support of the HSE HPV Vaccine from April 2018. She was determined that every parent in Ireland who was about to make the decision whether their daughter was to be vaccinated against HPV, would hear her story first.

“This illness is devastating and it’s going to take my life but the good news is there’s a vaccine that you can get that prevents it. HPV caused my cancer. I just wanted parents to know there is an alternative,” she said.

Laura expressed her delight with the latest uptake figures in a video message released today.

She said: “I am delighted at the amazing news that the uptake rate for the HPV vaccine is now 70%. That means seven in ten of this year’s first year girls that have received the first dose of the HPV vaccine and are now due the next dose.

“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.

Laura’s selfless advocacy was acknowledged by Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD who said: “Laura’s bravery and advocacy has continued to inspire women across the country. 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. I want to commend the HSE, Laura and other strong voices for continuing to show such exemplary leadership.”

A HSE campaign begins this week to coincide with the arrival of HSE vaccination teams into secondary schools across the country to administer the second dose of the vaccine to first year girls.

Dr Lucy Jessop, Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office stressed the importance for parents of speaking directly with the school vaccination teams, their local GPs and their local pharmacists:  “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.”