Big fall in cervical cancer take-up

Cervical cancer cells

A significant drop in the number of schoolgirls opting to receive the vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has prompted the Irish Cancer Society (ICS ) to organise talks where leading clinicians will promote its effectiveness.

Provisional figures from the HSE show the numbers dropped by 5,000 in the last academic year, compared to the 2014/2015 cycle.

The ICS said the drop “coincides with much media coverage of alleged illnesses caused by the vaccine, which in turn has raised significant safety fears among parents”.

In the period from September 2014 to June 2015, out of 30,838 girls who were eligible for the free vaccine, just 4,057 did not receive the shot, representing an uptake of 87%.

However, preliminary HSE figures indicate an uptake of 70% in the same period in 2015/2016, which would mean that, out of 31,272 vaccine-eligible girls, 9,382 did not receive the vaccination.

The Society has organised the talks out of the concern “that parents need more information to fully understand the risks of HPV-associated cancers, and need to hear from knowledgeable experts about the vaccine and its safety as they consider giving consent for their daughters to receive this injection”.

This new school term around 30,000 first-year secondary school girls will be offered the vaccine as part of a national vaccination programme which began in 2010.

‘Decoding Cancer — The HPV Vaccine: Warts and All’ public talks start in Galway this evening, from 6.30-7.30pm in the Clayton Hotel, Ballybrit, and in Cork tomorrow, 6.30-7.30pm, in the Oriel Hotel, Ballincollig.

Speakers include Prof Margaret Stanley, OBE, University of Cambridge; Dr Michael O Leary, Obstetrician, Galway University Hospital (Galway event); Dr Matt Hewitt, Consultant Obstetrician Cork University Maternity Hospital (Cork event).


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