Ireland has had one of the world’s quickest recoveries in vaccination rates after a health scare, an upturn which officials say is partly attributed to the campaigner Laura Brennan
The HSE said early this week that it expects the uptake rate for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will hit 80 per cent this year. This is a significant increase since 2017, when the rate dropped to 51 per cent.
Each year in Ireland about 400 people will be diagnosed with a cancer caused by the HPV virus, and officials said the higher rates could lead to many lives being saved.
The HPV vaccine protects against several types of the HPV virus that cause 9 out of 10 cervical cancers, including cases of vulval, anal and vaginal cancers and most cases of genital warts.
“We are very encouraged by the uptake for the first dose of HPV vaccine for first year students since September 2019," said Dr Lucy Jessop, Director of the HSE National Immunisation Office.
"This is the first year boys have also been offered the HPV vaccine and school teams are reporting very busy clinics across the country."
“Based on activity at our school clinics, our immunisation teams are confident that this year we’ll regain the WHO target of 80% uptake for the HPV vaccine nationally."
She added that Laura Brennan's tireless campaign efforts made a big difference in the uptake of the vaccine. "We can report that the uptake for the HPV vaccine in Laura Brennan’s home county of Clare is 90% - a wonderful testament to her selfless advocacy, and the continuing work of the Brennan family to promote the importance of the HPV vaccine in Ireland.”
Laura was only 24-years-old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer stage 2B. Since her diagnoses, she tirelessly devoted her time and energy - while battling her own illness - to raising awareness of the HPV vaccine and urging young women to participate in the CervicalCheck screening programme, despite its recent controversies.
She sadly passed away in Mach last year.
Laura had previously campaigned extensively to promote the HPV vaccine and praised an increase in uptake from 50% of first-year secondary school students in 2017 to 70% in March 2019.
Related: 'She was a light': Emotional tributes paid as HPV campaigner Laura Brennan passes away
Laura's brother Kevin added the family were thrilled at the news. "Our family are thrilled that the uptake of the HPV vaccine is set to reach target. Thank you to everyone who has helped us support the HPV vaccine over the last 12 months. We’re especially pleased that the parents of County Clare have heard Laura’s message loud and clear and that more than 90% of first years will now be protected from the virus that caused her cancer.”
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