Harris: 'We really need to call on the anti-vaxxers to cop on'

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD during the launch of a €20m Sláintecare Integration Fund at Inchicore Primary Care Centre, St Michael's Estate. Picture: Gareth Chaney / Collins

More needed to be done to “call out” the nonsense and the lies that are being spread about vaccinations, Health Minister, Simon Harris, has said.

“We really need to call on the anti-vaxxers to cop on; we need to call them out,” he said.

Mr Harris said they also needed to call out the TDs who continued to write nonsense in relation to vaccination.

“They continue to send representations to me questioning the benefits of vaccinations about constituent X and Y.

“Yes, we need to supply parents with all of the information. Yes, we need to help parents make informed decisions.

But if you want medical advice you should get it from a doctor or healthcare professional; not from a member of Dáil Éireann propagating nonsense.

“We have seen far too much of TDs coming into Dáil Éireann and standing on the floor of the Dáil criticising the HPV vaccine.

“Some of the people in the Dáil most vocal around the time of the CervicalCheck audit were the same people who actually spoke out against a vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer.

“That is complete and utter hypocrisy; it's rank hypocrisy; it's dangerous and going to cost lives.

We need to be really, really concerned about what is going on here. We have a measles outbreak in our country; we have a mumps outbreak in part of our country," said Mr Harris.

“Yes, the HPV vaccine rate is increasing but we really need to get it a hell of a lot higher if we want to eradicate cervical cancer within a generation.”

The minister also paid tribute to “the incredible” HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan who died this week.

Mr Harris said he had no doubt that Laura's advocacy saved lives and described her as the “most amazing” person he had ever met.

“It was never about Laura; it was always about making sure other women in this country could avoid getting cervical cancer,” he said.

When Laura started advocating that girls get the HPV vaccine, the uptake rate was about 51%. It now stands at 70%.

Mr Harris said the way Laura had inspired everybody in the health service to work really hard had contributed to vaccine uptake.

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