HPV vaccine uptake increases following information campaign

Uptake of the cervical cancer vaccine has increased from 50 to 61 per cent this year following a large drop in the number of young girls availing of it. In the 2014/15 school year 87 per cent of girls aged 12 to 13 received the vaccine but this fell sharply to 50 per cent last year.

Provisional Health Service Executive (HSE) figures from this autumn show the downward trend has been reversed, following a large information campaign addressing concerns around the vaccine.

The vaccine protects against several strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes seven out of 10 types of cervical cancer.

Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE, said the recovery in the vaccination rate was “very encouraging”.

The figures illustrate that “parents are seeking advice from trusted sources and recognising the life saving value of this vaccine for their daughters,” he said.

Dr Brenda Corcoran, head of the HSE’s national immunisation office, said it was “extremely unusual to reverse a downturn in vaccination uptake, and so quickly.” She said a huge amount of work from healthcare professionals had been put into tackling anti-vaccine “misinformation” spread about the HPV injection.

The Marie Keating Foundation has proudly joined the HPV Vaccination Alliance; a group of organisations that have come together to sign a Contract Against Cancer, specifically HPV- related cancers.

The aim of the alliance is to encourage everyone to look at the facts surrounding the life-saving Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, particularly in the run up to the new school year. The alliance is concerned that the fall-off in the HPV vaccination uptake is due to misinformation about the vaccine causing long-term illnesses. There is no scientific evidence to support this assertion. Over 100 million people have been fully vaccinated to date and research by multiple independent, international experts has found no difference in the rates of serious illnesses between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Contract Against Cancer:

ENDORSES the HPV vaccine as a proven and safe way to protect from cancers which destroy and end lives.

REALISES its obligation to do all we can to protect health and well-being by ensuring the facts prevail when it comes to the HPV vaccine.

PLEDGES to raise awareness of the HPV vaccine and its benefits in stopping cancer and saving lives.

For the first time, the ability to spare our country’s children the devastation of a cancer diagnosis is a reality. The Alliance believes it has a duty to act urgently to prevent future hardship and save lives.

For more information on the HPV Vaccination Alliance and its Contract Against Cancer click here.

[Reference: National Cancer Registry Ireland and National Immunisation Office (HPV.ie)].