Sinn Féin calls for respect for mothers concerned over HPV vaccine

The HSE has said methods used by anti-vaccine groups amount to “emotional terrorism”

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HSE launches HPV Vaccination Programme, 30-08-2017. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews

19:45 30 Aug 2017 Michael Staines 19:45 Wednesday 30 August 2017

Sinn Fein has called for greater respect to be shown to mothers with concerns over the HPV vaccine.

It comes after the HSE claimed some of the methods used by anti-vaccine groups amount to “emotional terrorism.”

The executive has launched a new vaccine awareness campaign, warning that "unsubstantiated, scientifically incorrect and dangerous" claims have led to a drop-off in vaccination rates.

The vaccine is being offered to first year girls around the country, and to those who missed a dose.

Provisional data from the health organisation shows that rates have fallen from a high of almost 90% in 2015 to around 50% last year.

Over 90 women die from cervical cancer each year - a third of them under the age of 50 - and doctors insist that many of these deaths are preventable through vaccination.

Parents are being urged to get proper medical advice if they are worried about the vaccine – which is respected by medical organisations around the world as an effective protection against cervical cancer.

Sarah Robinson from Lucan and Robyn Hendrick from Ballyfermot with HSE health and wellbeing national director, Dr Stephanie O’Keefe, Minister for Health Simon Harris and HSE director general Tony O'Brien, 30-08-2017. Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Anti-vaccination groups

Campaigners representing parents of around 350 children around Ireland have claimed that the vaccination is the cause of 'serious health problems' that their teenage daughters have developed.

However, medical bodies have warned that the claims are “untrue and are not backed by any credible scientific body."

HSE spokesperson Stephanie O’Keeffe said there is no proof the vaccine has led to any adverse reactions:

“The World Health Organisation, The US Centre for Disease Control, The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, The International Association for Gynaecologists and Obstetricians are all saying [...] there is not one shred of evidence that demonstrates and association between the HPV vaccine and the kinds of things that people are saying that it causes,” she said.

Concerns

Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said that medical authorities need to listen to those with concerns:

“I have met people who believe – and they wholeheartedly believe – that their daughters have been impacted adversely by the HPV vaccine,” she said.

“But I also know that we have a chance to eradicate cervical cancer and we should take that run with it.

“The drop-off in vaccine rates is very concerning but also we cannot dismiss the concerns of mothers.”

Professor Donal Brennan, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at the Mater Hospital in Dublin said that international evidence shows the vaccine is safe, effective and is saving lives.

"We do not in any way suggest that these girls are not sick,” he said. “But we cannot say there is a causative link between the HPV vaccination and those different symptoms & syndromes that have developed."

The HSE campaign stresses that social media is not the place to receive medical advice and urges parents to speak to a medical expert if they have concerns.

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