Doctors launch new HPV vaccine campaign

There has been an 11% increase in the number of girls getting the vaccine this year

Updated 12:30

There has been an 11% increase in the number of girls getting the HPV vaccine.

HSE figures show the uptake level so far this year is 62% - compared to 51% last year.

It follows several years of decline - due to what medical experts say were unfounded fears about side effects.

Despite the increase, doctors are launching a new campaign today in an effort to get the uptake even higher.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign Laura Carroll said she got in contact with the HSE and asked to help with their awareness campaign after her cervical cancer spread.

She told Newstalk that her cancer is now uncurable:

"I was originally diagnosed in 2016 with cervical cancer stage 2B," she said.

"Then after being given the all clear, it recurred two months later in September 2017."

"I have just finished my sixth round of palliative chemo.

"The palliative chemo is to extend my life but unfortunately it won't get rid of the cancer."

She said she finds the misinformation that has been spread about the vaccine upsetting.

She said it is known to save lives, adding, "it could have saved mine."

"There is no reason for anyone to be scared to get the vaccine because it has been tested for years," she said.

"I find it upsetting that people would choose to take the risk of getting cancer and listen to rumours." 

Campaign

Letters are going out to parents today offering a second chance for those who did not get their daughters vaccinated the first time around. 

The Health Minister Simon Harris said it is vital parents get their information about the vaccine from the right source:

“It is really important the people get their medical information from medical professionals,” he said.

“The entire purpose of this campaign is to enable parents to get that factual information.

“There is only one website in Ireland that provides factual information that has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and that is HPV.ie.

“I would encourage anybody looking for information on this life-saving vaccine to go there.”

Prevention

Dr Brenda Corcoran, head of the HSE's National Immunisation Office said the main aim of the outreach is to "prevent girls developing cervical cancer or even the pre-cancers that require significant hospital treatment."

“This vaccine prevents many – seven out of ten – of those cancers so it will have a long-term impact on the girl’s wellbeing," she said.

“We strongly advocate all parents to consider this vaccine and to get this vaccine as soon as possible.”

At least 90 women die from cervical cancer in Ireland every year. 

Reporting from Juliette Gash ...