Calls to reinstate plan for vaccine


AN ONLINE campaign calling on Minister for Health Mary Harney to reinstate a promised cervical cancer vaccination programme took to the streets last night as supporters gathered in Dublin and Cork for candlelight vigils.

More than 100 campaigners congregated for the events, which were organised through a Facebook group titled "Harney must reinstate cervical cancer vaccine". More than 10,000 people have signed up to the group over the past three weeks.

Facebook is an internet social networking site which allows users to share information and content.

The campaign group was formed following a decision by the Government last month to abandon its plan to have all 12-year-old girls vaccinated against a virus that causes cervical cancer.

The human papilloma virus HPV vaccination would have cost an estimated €9.7 million annually. Between 70 and 80 women with cervical cancer die in Ireland each year and some 200 new cases are diagnosed annually.

Campaign organiser Shauneen Armstrong said the decision not to go ahead with the vaccination programme was "short-sighted and deeply flawed". She called on supporters to put pressure on their local TDs to reverse the decision.

Speaking at the Dublin event, Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly said the cancellation of the programme did not make moral, economic or ethical sense. "For the sake of a few million euro they are sacrificing the lives of our daughters," he said.

Labour Party health spokeswoman Jan O'Sullivan said: "It is incomprehensible that for such a small sum of money a decision which would save at least 50 lives a year could be abandoned."

In Cork, Labour city councillor Catherine Clancy said the vaccine programmes did save lives.