HPV VAC­CINE CRI­SIS

New Ross Standard - - NEWS -

HEALTH PRO­FES­SION­ALS ARE ALARMED AT THE SHARP DE­CLINE IN NUM­BERS RE­CEIV­ING THE LIFE-SAV­ING HPV VAC­CINE, BUT PRES­SURE GROUPS AND SOME PAR­ENTS CON­TINUE TO WARN OF AD­VERSE SIDE EF­FECTS. WE TAKE A LOOK AT BOTH SIDES OF THE DE­BATE

Pro­vi­sional fig­ures show that up­take fell even more sharply in 2016/2017, fall­ing to as low as 50 per cent na­tion­ally.

In re­sponse, more than 30 or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing lead­ing health, chil­dren and women’s groups, have come to­gether to ex­press their alarm at this dra­matic and life-threat­en­ing fall in num­bers.

The cancer so­ci­ety said that in this year alone, 420 peo­ple in Ire­land will be di­ag­nosed with a cancer caused by HPV in­fec­tion. Al­most 300 of th­ese will be cer­vi­cal cancer cases. A fur­ther 6,500 women will need hos­pi­tal treat­ment to re­move pre­can­cer­ous growths in their cervix caused by HPV.

Cer­vi­cal cancer is the sec­ond most com­mon cause of death due to cancer in women aged 25 to 39. In 2017, more than 90 Ir­ish women will die from cer­vi­cal cancer and those who sur­vive will need in­ten­sive treat­ment, such as surgery, ra­dio­ther­apy and/or chemo­ther­apy, to help them over­come this in­va­sive dis­ease. This treat­ment al­most al­ways re­sults in in­fer­til­ity.

This new school term around 30,000 firstyear sec­ondary school girls will be of­fered the vac­cine as part of a na­tional vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme which be­gan in 2010. While na­tional up­take of the vac­cine reached a high of 87 per cent in the 2014/2015 aca­demic year, in just two years this has fallen to 50 per cent, largely due to mis­in­for­ma­tion about the vac­cine spread­ing on so­cial me­dia.

The so­ci­ety said that last year’s low up­take will re­sult in a min­i­mum of 40 deaths. An­other 100 girls will need life-chang­ing treat­ment and 1,000 more will need in­va­sive ther­apy.

In coming to­gether, the HPV Vac­ci­na­tion Al­liance is un­equiv­o­cal: the HPV vac­cine is safe and saves lives. The abil­ity to spare our coun­try’s chil­dren and adults the dev­as­ta­tion of a cancer di­ag­no­sis can be­come a re­al­ity. The Al­liance be­lieves it has a duty to act ur­gently to pre­vent fu­ture hard­ship and save lives.

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