HPV VACCINE CRISIS
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.