With so much focus on the importance of vaccinations at the moment, Labour Rep Chris O’Dwyer has highlighted the drop in the number of students receiving the HPV vaccine which is a vital protection against cervical and other cancers and backed the call for a catch-up scheme.
O’Dwyer said: “Figures released to Alan Kelly show just over half of first year second students got the HPV vaccine last year. The year before, 4 out of every 5 students received the first dose of the vaccine. “We all remember the incredible campaign by the late Laura Brennan to promote the HPV vaccine before her untimely death two years ago from cervical cancer. We must ensure that her brave campaign is honoured and remembered. “It is concerning that there has been a 30% drop in the uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine compared to this time last year.
“What’s even more worrying is that the HSE hasn’t provided any detail on how they plan to carry out a catch-up programme for first and second year students to get the vaccine. “The scheme is currently paused in nearly all schools so we will need a plan to get it back up and running, and ensure students aren’t missed. The HSE needs to urgently draft a detailed plan to catch up on missed vaccinations. “We have worked so hard as a country to combat HPV vaccine hesitancy especially through the work of Laura Brennan who wanted her legacy to be the high uptake of the HPV vaccine.
“It’s not good enough for the HSE to be vague about this. A 30% drop is worrying and no detail as to when a catch up programme will begin. “The HSE and Government need to allow GPs and pharmacists to administer the vaccine free of charge to first and second year students. The fees that are there at the moment to get this vaccine privately are prohibitive for many families. “Vaccines save lives and it’s never been more important to ensure that all who can receive theirs.”