Strong evidence HPV vaccine is saving lives, Simon Harris says

Senator Tim Lombard expresses concern about recent negative publicity

There is strong evidence of the beneficial impact of the HPV vaccine for women's health in countries that have had high uptake rates, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said.

He told the Seanad last night that cases of high grade pre-cancerous changes of the cervix had been reduced by 75 per cent in Australia and by more than 50 per cent in Scotland.

“This is a vaccine that can and is saving lives,’’ he added.

He was replying to Fine Gael senator Tim Lombard who said he was greatly concerned by the negative publicity regarding HPV vaccination in recent months.


The Catholic Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Phonsie Cullinan, apologised earlier this week for his "poor judgement'' in remarks critical of the vaccine.

Mr Lombard said the rate of the uptake of the vaccine had dropped in recent years. In 2013, the rate was 88 per cent, but it had dropped to 86 per cent in 2014 and to 76 per cent in 2015.

“That is greatly worrying,’’ said Mr Lombard. “The HPV vaccination gives women the opportunity to be vaccinated against cervical cancer, which is a silent killer.”

Mr Harris said one of his absolute priorities was to counter misinformation relating to the safety of vaccines and to increase uptake rates of all vaccines in the State’s immunisation programmes.

“All of us who hold public office have a duty to help get the facts and the information out to the public and to debug the myths,’’ the Minister added.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times