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'I am not anti-vaccine, but 14-year girls don't lie en masse': Senator pushes for debate on HPV vaccine

Gerard Craughwell said he would like medical experts as well as parents concerned about their daughters to attend.

Image: Shutterstock/funnyangel

AN INDEPENDENT SENATOR has said he wants further debate of the HPV vaccine.

Gerard Craughwell said he would like medical experts as well as parents concerned about their daughters invited to attend the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health.

The senator took to Twitter to say he had put forward the request.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie Craughwell said a number of concerned parents have been in touch with him in recent weeks, but he denied that he was acting on behalf of the campaign group, Regret.

The group came to prominence in recent years by questioning the safety of the vaccine, and claiming it caused illness in 400 Irish teenage girls and young women after they took it.

HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, with almost all men and women contracting it at some point in their lives.

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell, who is a member of the Health Committee, said while groups are obviously entitled to be heard by the committee, she did not think it was appropriate in this case.

“The medical evidence far outweighs the claims and finds the vaccine to be a good thing,” said the TD, who is also a qualified pharmacist.

O’Connell said there had been numerous studies, investigative journalism articles, which have been based on medical fact, and have found that there is “no evidence behind the claims”.

She said holding another hearing on the issue would “send the wrong message” from the Health Committee.

Regret group 

Craughwell said Regret had made contact with him during the week, but he told them he had “no interest” in discussing the issue with them.

The Galway politician added that he was “not going to be used as a group spokesperson he knew nothing about”.

The senator said the issue is “extremely emotive” but said it was his view that matters of this kind should be openly debated.

“I am not anti-vaccine. All my children have been vaccinated, and I would expect all my grandchildren will be too,” said the senator.

My view is that it took almost 50 years to show cause and effect between smoking and cancer. Are we really discounting the possibility that a number of these girls have not been affected? I think we have to discuss it.
… I am not saying it causes it, I am saying I want to know.

Some of the symptoms young girls claim to have experienced include rapid heart rate increases on sitting or standing up, fatigue, dizziness and other symptoms.

Health Committee 

The issue of the HPV vaccine has been discussed by the Health Committee in the past.

Last year, a number of stakeholders in the debate attended a meeting in December.

During the hearing, former independent senator Fidelma Healy Eames raised her concerns about the vaccine, while the current Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O’Connor (who was not a minister at the time) asked the doctors in attendance if they would have their children vaccinated.

HSE medical officials defended the vaccine, with Dr Colette Bonner, deputy chief medical officer of the Department of Health, stating that there are other syndromes not connected to the vaccine that would explain the side-effects the girls have experienced.

Source: TheVaxChannel/YouTube

The vaccine was also raised in the Health Committee last month by Kate O’Connell.

She said the numbers of girls getting the vaccine had fallen significantly.

“Due to various factors, including a fairly aggressive social media campaign and various claims about side effects of the vaccine, we are now heading towards an uptake rate of under 50%, which is very concerning, because it is completely in breach of the concept of herd immunity,” she said.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said from the years 2014 -2015, there was an 87% uptake in the vaccine – the highest since the programme began in 2010.

Source: TheVaxChannel/YouTube

O’Connell told TheJournal.ie that the figures were “quite startling”.

Craughwell said he believed the significant fall-off in the number of girls getting the vaccination is due to the lack of information from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

“I don’t think there is any excuse now for someone to be uninformed about the vaccine,” said O’Connell, citing that there were countless information leaflets, as well as articles in the media on a regular basis, paricularly highlighting RTÉ’s Prime Time Investigates programme.

Senator Craughwell went on the say the painting of the concerned parents as “some sorts of kranks” was “not fair”. ”

“14-year girls don’t lie en masse,” he concluded.

FactCheck: No, the reported side effects of the HPV vaccine do NOT outweigh the proven benefits  >

‘Forty young Irish girls will die of cervical cancer as a result of falling HPV vaccine rates’ says Fine Gael TD>

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