Parents shunning cervical cancer vaccine, IMO forum hears

Public health doctors express concern over “scaremongering” on HPV vaccine

Large number of parents are withdrawing their consent for their daughters to be vaccinated against the HPV virus due to adverse publicity over its alleged side-effects, the annual conference of the Irish Medical Organisation has heard.

Public health doctor Ann Hogan said "a significant number of parents" were withdrawing consent for a follow-up dose of the vaccine currently being administered.

She blamed media coverage of alleged side-effects, in particular a recent television programme, for the trend.

The meeting unanimously passed a motion calling on the Minister for Health and the HSE to support the effective communication to parents of the “critical importance” of the vaccine in preventing cervical cancer and genital warts.


The vaccine has been administered to 12 and 13-year-old girls since 2010.

The target update is 85 per cent and, so far, uptake has exceeded 80 per cent throughout the country, apart from north Dublin and west Cork.

The vaccine used in Ireland, known commercially as Gardasil, is opposed here by a parents’ support group Reaction and Effects of Gardasil Resulting in Extreme Trauma (Regret), whose members claim their teenage girls became ill after getting the vaccine.

Monaghan GP Ilona Duffy criticised media "scaremongering" on the issue and said doctors had to be strong in communicating with patients. They also needed the support of the HSE.

A call to amend the motion to propose that the amendment also be administered to young teenage boys was not accepted.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

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