Irish Cancer Society calls for additional investment in the HPV vaccine

New figures have revealed that 130 people die in Ireland every year from cancers related to the HPV virus

HPV vaccine, High Court, flu-like symptoms, Fiona Kirby, health, HSE

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New stats have revealed that 130 people die in Ireland every year from cancers related to the HPV virus.

The National Cancer Registry (NCR) claims a vaccine combating the Human Papilloma Virus could prevent up to two-thirds of cases in women - but warned that not enough people are getting the jab.

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) has called for additional efforts and investment to both improve uptake of the HPV vaccination programme – and to widen the programme to boys.

NCR director, Professor Kerri Clough Gorr has warned that uptake has fallen as low as 50% as a result of misinformation.

She said the evidence proves the vaccine works:

“The evidence at hand in regard to these vaccinations point to the fact that the benefits of these vaccinations outweigh the possible side-effects of the vaccinations,” she said.

“This is substantiated in the US by the Centres for Disease Control and in the UK by the National Health Service,” she said.

Donal Buggy, ICS head of services and advocacy said the new figures shine a light on the devastating consequences the virus can have on women and men.

“The vast majority of us will develop a HPV infection at some point in our lives, and for most this will be harmless,” he said.

He said 420 people in Ireland are diagnosed with cancer caused by HPV infection every year – with 130 people losing their lives as a result.

He said the availability of the vaccine - which can significantly reduce these figures and save lives – should see the numbers fall substantially in the coming years.

“However, reports that uptake of the vaccine among first-year secondary school girls - to whom it is offered for free - has dropped from 87% to as low as 50% in the space of two years, is hugely concerning,” he said.

“If this worrying trend is not reversed, women will continue to die needlessly from HPV-caused cancers.”

He said 85 men develop cancers that could have been prevented by the vaccine each year – and called on the government to “invest in the extension of the national HPV school vaccination programme to boys, so that as many lives as possible can be saved.”

He said boys can currently get the vaccine through their GP for a fee.