Anti-HPV vaccine campaign will cause 40 deaths - O’Connell

Fine Gael TD directly blames anti-vaccine movement for decline in uptake among girls

Gardasil, a vaccine against cervical cancer. Photograph: AFP/ Getty Images

Forty young Irish girls will die of cervical cancer as a result of falling vaccination rates against the disease, a Fine Gael TD has said.

As few as half of all 12-13 year-olds are not getting the HPV vaccine, down from an uptake of 87 per cent three years ago, according to Kate O’Connell.

Ms O’Connell, who is a pharmacist, said the decline in uptake was very concerning as it would affect the herd immunity offered by mass vaccination.

The decline, which she blamed directly on a campaign against the vaccine, translates to the deaths in later life of 40 girls who are currently 12-13 year-old, she told the Oireachtas health committee.


Minister for Health Simon Harris said he was very concerned about "unsubstantiated misinformation" being spread about the Gardasil vaccine given to young second-level schoolgirls.

About 5,000 fewer girls received the vaccine last winter compared to the previous year, according to preliminary data, he said, and this will result in otherwise preventable deaths from cervical cancer.

Gardasil was safe and fully tested and has been given to 220,000 girls in Ireland, he said.

Regret (Reactions and Effects of Gardasil Resulting in Extreme Trauma) represents over 350 young Irish women who it says have developed long-term side effects following vaccination. It claims recipients developed seizures, fatigue and joint pain after immunisation.

Medical experts have said there is no basis for the group’s claims.

Mr Harris promised to come back to the committee with proposals to extend the vaccine to young boys.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.