HPV vaccine fall off blamed on 'fake news'

Over 200,000 girls in Irleand have been vaccinated

HPV vaccine fall off blamed on 'fake news'

Image: YouTube/HSE Ireland

Cancer experts are warning 40 Irish women will die because of what is being called a misinformation campaign around the cervical cancer vaccine.

The Times Ireland reports some 15,000 vaccinations against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) were refused in 2016 as a result of "unsubstantiated" claims about the dangers of vaccines used in Ireland.

The paper says the number of doses of Gardasil - one of the vaccines used - fell by at least 5,000 from 2015.

It claims this drop that has been linked to an anti-vaccine lobby group.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is understood to be re-offering the treatment to those who refused it last year.

In the period from September 2014 to June 2015, out of 30,838 girls who were eligible for the free vaccine, just 4,057 did not receive the shot - representing an uptake of 87%.

But provisional figures from the HSE indicate an uptake of 70% in the same period in 2015/2016 - which would mean that out of 31,272 vaccine-eligible girls, 9,382 did not receive the vaccination.

The HSE says each year in Ireland, over 6,500 women need hospital treatment for pre-cancer of the cervix.

While 300 women get cervical cancer, and 90 women die from it.

Cervical cancer is caused by HPV, and the vaccine protects against seven out of 10 of these cancers.

Figures from November 2016 say over 200,00 girls in Ireland have been vaccinated.

Dr Robert O'Connor is head of research at the Irish Cancer Society.

He told Newstalk Breakfast fake news is giving people the wrong information.

"Parents always want what's best for their kids, I think that's inbred in all of us.

"Unfortuently people have been greatly misled by fake news regarding this vaccine.

"100 million people have successfully received the vaccine across the world - it's been carefully studied now for well over 10 years."