HPV vaccine uptake rate falls 15% among young girls

IMO say rates are falling due to ‘fake news stories about nonexistent risks’

The rate of uptake for HPV cervical cancer vaccination has fallen 15 per cent among young girls.

The vaccine, which protects women from seven out of 10 types of cervical cancer, has been offered to girls aged 12-13 in the first year of secondary school since 2011.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has published the third National Healthcare Quality Reporting System report. The review of local healthcare systems found uptake of the HPV vaccine has declined 15 per cent in two years.

Nationally the vaccination rate for the cervical cancer vaccine among secondary school girls fell from 87 per cent in 2014 to 72 per cent last year. The areas revealed to have the lowest rate of vaccination were Kerry, and north and west Cork, which were under 65 per cent. The areas with the highest rate of vaccination were south Dublin, Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny and Louth, which all had an uptake of more than 80 per cent for the vaccine.


Adverse coverage

The report outlined that the public’s views regarding “some media coverage about this vaccine may have adversely impacted uptake levels in recent years”.

There has been a growing online campaign against the drug Gardasil, used by the HSE in the HPV vaccinations. Antivaccination groups have said the drug has led to adverse side effects for some girls who were vaccinated.

The health report outlined that “the World Health Organisation and every national expert and regulatory body in the world have refuted these allegations and stated that the HPV vaccine is safe and that it is not associated with an increased risk of any of the alleged side effects”.

Dr Ann Hogan, president of the Irish Medical Association, said the "uptake rates for the HPV vaccine amongst young girls are declining to a worrying extent on the back of fake news stories about nonexistent risks from vaccinations. As a result we are putting the future health of young women at risk of cervical cancer."

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times