Monday 25 March 2019

'Incredible' terminally-ill woman who campaigns for HPV vaccine praised as teen uptake of jab rises to 70pc

Laura Brennan on The Late Late Show
Laura Brennan on The Late Late Show

Eilish O’Regan

Uptake by teenage girls of the HPV vaccine, which helps protect against cervical cancer, has risen to 70pc, it emerged today.

The uptake is continuing to recover after falling to 51pc two years ago due to unfounded fears about its safety.

It is still not back to the 81pc uptake which it had reached in the years after the vaccine was first introduced in 2010.

It means that one in three girls who could benefit are not getting the jab.

The latest figures come as the HSE vaccination teams return to second level 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 said it was “extremely encouraging and important that Ireland had achieved such a marked increase in such a relatively short period of time.

Dr Jessop today also paid tribute to Laura Brennan, HPV vaccine patient advocate.

The young woman has cervical cancer and has been prominent in urging greater take-up.

“Laura is an incredible young woman whose intelligence, determination and fearless advocacy over the past 18 months have undoubtedly influenced parents in making the important decision to vaccinate and protect their daughters.”

Ms Brennan commented: “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 TD today added: "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."

The advice to parents is to speak directly with the school vaccination teams, their local GPs and their local pharmacists if they have any questions.

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