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Most schools with low uptake rate of HPV vaccine are disadvantaged - study

The study examined 577 schools across the country and analysed figures from the 2013/2014 academic year.

Image: Shutterstock/Komsan Loonprom

SCHOOLS THAT HAVE the lowest uptake rate for the HPV vaccine are mostly disadvantaged schools, a study in the Irish Medical Journal has indicated.

The study looked at 577 Irish schools using 2013/2014 figures, and aimed to examine the link between schools with low uptake rates and other factors, such as socioeconomic deprivation, religious ethos and co-educational status.

It showed that over 80% of schools with the lowest uptake rates (below 50% availing of the vaccine) were classed as disadvantaged schools, or DEIS schools.

It found that when comparing the average vaccine uptake between schools that there was “a lower mean and median vaccine uptake in disadvantaged schools compared with other schools”.

HPV study Source: Irish Medical Journal

“Disadvantaged schools had a lower uptake of vaccine for 2nd and 3rd doses of vaccine,” the study’s authors said.

Differences in uptake increased for each subsequent dose. Other school characteristics did not affect vaccine uptake.

IMJ vaccine Source: Irish Medical Journal

The researchers did add that this study was ”limited by the fact that it was not possible to determine if any individual student characteristics affect uptake”.

Ethnicity could not be measured in our study, which may be a factor.
Language and literacy difficulties may impact on parents’ ability to complete consent forms for vaccination, and therefore affect uptake as may other characteristics of students such as parental education.

The study was undertaken before anti-HPV vaccine publicity negatively affected HPV vaccine uptake in schools, which has been of growing concern for agencies involved in the vaccine roll-out.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that claims that the HPV vaccine caused 400 Irish girls to fall ill were “false”, “unfounded”, and causing an extreme decline in the uptake of the vaccine.

The State’s HPV vaccine scheme offers free vaccination to all girls aged 15 years and older through the school system.

Over 200,000 girls in Ireland have safely received the HPV vaccine, along with 100 million people worldwide in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A study is currently underway to see if it would be appropriate to roll out the HPV vaccine to young boys as well. You can read the study in full here.

Read: ‘Women will die needlessly’: Call for push to increase uptake of HPV vaccine

Read: Study to begin on rolling out free HPV vaccine scheme to boys

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