HSE rules out involvement in anti-HPV vaccine conference

Campaign group hosting event to address health service’s ‘lack of co-operation’

The HSE has said it will have no involvement in an anti-HPV-vaccine event set to be held in Dublin next Saturday.

The conference is being organised by the International Federation for Injured Children and Adults, a campaign group "seeking solutions for those who have developed long-term health issues after receiving the HPV vaccine".

On its website it says it is hosting the Working Together conference to address "the lack of co-operation from the Irish Health Service in relation to reports of hundreds of girls in Ireland reacting adversely to the HPV vaccine, Gardasil".

It adds that, as well as being addressed by academic speakers who oppose the HPV vaccine, the conference will hear from a speaker from the HSE who is to be confirmed. But a spokeswoman for the Health Service Executive said: "The HSE will not be attending . . . The website hpv.ie is the only HPV-related website in Ireland that has been fully accredited by the World Health Organisation."

The uptake rate for the human papilloma virus vaccine has fallen dramatically in recent years, to about 50 per cent. The decline occurred amid widespread fears, discussed particularly on anti-vaccination social-media sites, that it has damaging side effects, including chronic fatigue. After an HSE campaign to counter this, the uptake has increased to 60 per cent.

“We would urge anyone seeking information on the HPV vaccine to only access reputable sources of information,” the HSE spokeswoman said. “We would further urge any parent or any member of the public to discuss any issues or concerns with a medical practitioner. Their GP or local pharmacist is available to them to discuss the vaccine and will address any questions or concerns they may have.

“The HSE is currently offering a catch-up programme for anyone who previously hesitated and who now wants to get their daughter vaccinated. The vaccination teams are currently in second-level schools, and anyone whose daughter is still attending a second-level school but has not yet received the vaccine can contact the school vaccination teams using contact information available on hpv.ie.”

Labour’s health spokesman, Alan Kelly, has urged Minister for Health Simon Harris to speed up the extension of the HPV vaccination programme to include boys. Mr Kelly said the vaccine protected young girls from developing cervical cancer when they grew up, and vaccinating preteen boys would protect them from HPV-related cancers later in life.