HSE school vaccination teams are returning to secondary schools to offer the second dose of HPV vaccine.
The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause 9 out of 10 cervical cancers.
The vaccine also protects against most cases of vulval, anal and vaginal cancers and most cases of genital warts.
Each year in Ireland about 400 people will be diagnosed with a cancer caused by the HPV virus.
“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.
The HSE also reported that uptake was up to 90% in the late HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan’s home county of Clare.
Dr Jessop said that this was “a wonderful testament” to Brennan’s “selfless advocacy, and the continuing work of the Brennan family to promote the importance of the HPV vaccine in Ireland”.
Kevin Brennan, Laura’s brother said “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.
Laura Brennan 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
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) March 11, 2019
HSE continues its campaign this week and will feature Eoin Roche, 42, from Co. Kildare who talks about his experience of undergoing treatment for a HPV-related cancer.
He hopes his story will encourage parents to get their daughters and sons vaccinated.
“Last year I was diagnosed with HPV cancer in my neck,” he said
“During treatment I decided I wanted to help in any way I could in the promotion of the HPV vaccine.
“I contacted Kevin Brennan, who is the brother of Laura. Laura’s story inspired me, as did the work of her family in the promotion of the HPV vaccine.”
In September 2019 first-year secondary school boys joined the HPV vaccination programme for the first time.
The MenACWY vaccine is also being introduced for all students in first year of secondary school.
It replaces the MenC booster that has normally been given to students and covers more meningococcal strains than previously.
“Over the last couple of years there has been in increase in meningococcal disease in this age group,” said Dr Jessop
“We are delighted to now be offering the MenACWY vaccine to all first year students in secondary school through the HSE school vaccination programme.”
The HPV vaccine is endorsed by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), the Irish Pharmacy Union and the Irish Cancer Society’s HPV Alliance and by the World Health Organization.