Finian McGrath 'supports' HPV vaccine campaign

The 'super junior' health minister has admitted raising concerns about the vaccine

Finian McGrath 'supports' HPV vaccine campaign

Finian McGrath and Simon Harris. Image:

Super Junior Minister Finian McGrath 'supports the campaign' in support of the HPV vaccine programme, the Health Minister Simon Harris has said.

It comes after the junior minister admitted he did raise concerns about the HPV vaccine weeks before entering government.

In an interview in today's Sunday Times, Minister McGrath stood over his actions in raising those concerns - but could not cite the scientific study behind them.

Quizzed about a statistic he quoted, Minister McGrath told the paper: "I think that's in the UK. I'm 99% sure. It's something I saw earlier on in the office. I'm nearly positive."

The Government has this week been actively encouraging parents to ensure their girls get the vaccine - which helps protect against cervical cancer - after vaccination rates fell to a low of 50% last year.

A new HSE campaign is urging parents to allow their daughters get vaccinated.

Hundreds of parents have claimed the HPV vaccination is the cause of 'serious health problems' that their teenager daughters have developed.

Doctors and health officials around the world, however, have insisted the vaccine is "safe and effective", and no "credible scientific body" has linked the vaccine to any long-term side effects.

"You have to have the facts right"

In a statement, Minister Harris - who has called on amateurs to 'please butt out' of offering advice the vaccine - said he spoke to Finian McGrath earlier today.

The Health Minister says the junior minister at the Department of Health "supports the new campaign to encourage parents to avail of the HPV vaccine which saves lives".

The statement adds: "[Minister McGrath] welcomes the fact the whole purpose of the new campaign is to help inform parents and direct them to medical professionals to have any questions answered and facts provided.

"Ministers Harris and McGrath agree that the people qualified to give advice on vaccines are medical professionals and they would encourage parents to take advice from them."

Doctor Mairead Byrne says girls should not delay in getting the vaccine.

Speaking on Newstalk's On The Record, Dr Byrne observed: "[Minister McGrath] is well meaning possibly, and he's trying to represent that cohort of patients who have complained of chronic fatigue, or maybe other conditions. But for me, as a doctor, I would not be advising the public [to avoid the vaccine].

"This is a vaccine that [girls] need to get at the first of secondary school. It's too late to get it later on."

She added: "You have to have the facts right - and we need to save lives."