On Tuesday, August 27, the HSE launched the 2019/20 schools HPV vaccine programme. The HPV vaccine is now being given to all first year students in secondary school, including girls and, for the first time, boys.
HPV is a virus that can cause cervical cancer, and other cancers in both women and men. The HPV vaccine will protect young people from HPV related cancers when they grow up. The uptake of the HPV vaccine has a participation rate of approximately 70%, which is an increase of 20% points since 2017.
The increase is in no small part due to the tireless work of HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan. Laura’s family are continuing her work following her death six months ago and were in attendance at today’s launch.
Speaking at the event her brother, Kevin Brennan said “Laura poured herself into this campaign, knowing every time she told her story; it had the potential to save a life. The increase in the uptake rates of the HPV vaccine in last year’s first year girls is bittersweet for us – we’re delighted that Laura has played a part in helping to protect so many more young people from HPV cancers. And the introduction of the boys to the vaccination programme is very welcome news too. But we’re all very aware of Laura’s absence today and how much she would have loved to share this occasion.
As Laura would say, Get the Facts, Get the Vaccine. Protect Our Future.”
With high uptake of the HPV vaccine there is the potential to save 112 lives each year by preventing the most common strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer and other cancers.
The HPV vaccine now protects against 9 out of 10 HPV cancers. The HPV virus can cause cancers and conditions that can affect boys too, making it extremely important for all young people to get the vaccine.
This year Ireland will join over 20 other countries including the UK in giving HPV vaccine to boys and girls in 1st year of secondary school.
The HSE is also promoting new and informative videos online and on social media, in order to support parents’ decision to get their children vaccinated.
The videos feature real families who have either received the vaccine or who will be getting vaccinated in the coming year. Participants include the Daly family from Cork, the Houston Family from Donegal, Amanda Kenny and her son Charlie from Dublin and Stuart Teehan and his son Fionn, from Wicklow.
The vaccine is endorsed by major medical and scientific bodies worldwide including the World Health Organization, the Centres for Disease Control in the USA, the EU funded European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.