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Catchup programme for HPV vaccine receives approval

It will be available to women up to the age of 25 years who have left secondary school and who did not receive it previously.

Image: Shutterstock/CNK02

A CATCHUP PROGRAMME will be rolled out for young people who have not received the HPV vaccine. 

It will be available to women up to the age of 25 years who have left secondary school, along with girls and boys in secondary school who were eligible in 1st year but did not receive the jab.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly welcomed the new advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

He said: “Based on the NIAC’s updated advice, I have asked the HSE to prepare to operationalise a programme that would provide for all girls and boys in secondary schools who were previously eligible to receive the HPV vaccine and who have not yet, for whatever reason, received it, to now be offered the vaccine.

 “I have also asked the HSE to provide options on how best to introduce a catch-up programme for young women who have now left secondary school and who did not receive the vaccine when they were eligible.”

Donnelly tweeted more information on the news today, saying that it is important young people can access the vaccine “without a prohibitive cost barrier”. 

He stressed Ireland can “eradicate cervical cancer over time” and paid tribute to the late advocate Laura Brennan who campaigned for awareness of the vaccine.

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“Ireland is the only country in the western world to reverse a crisis in confidence in HPV vaccination. We owe patient advocate Laura Brennan, an incredible campaigner, and her family a huge amount,” Donnelly said.  

The Department of Health requested the NIAC to examine the clinical effectiveness and population-wide benefit for late last year. 

According to one study published last November, cervical cancer rates are 87% lower in women who have had the Cervarix HPV vaccine. Gardasil, the vaccine used in Ireland, protects against nine out of 10 cervical cancers.

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