Winning hearts and minds on HPV vaccine

Ireland, Denmark and France stand out among European countries with low uptake of vaccine designed to combat cervical and other cancers

 

Growing resistance to the HPV vaccine in the Republic is reflected in the State’s inclusion in a meeting last week convened by the World Health Organisation(WHO) to discuss the issue. Ireland, Denmark and France stand out among European countries with a low uptake of the vaccine designed to combat cervical and other cancers.

The reduced HPV vaccine uptake is a recent phenomenon. Immunisation rates peaked at 87 per cent among girls aged 12 to 13 in 2014-2015. Preliminary figures suggest a recent precipitous drop to an uptake of 70 per cent. The primary reason for this is thought to be an international campaign by lobby groups claiming the vaccine causes significant side-effects.

Television programmes with emotive scenes are part of the anti- vaccine campaign which, in Denmark, has led to HPV uptake rates as low as 25 per cent.

A formal European Medicines Agency review into the HPV vaccine found it to be efficacious and safe. More than 100 million people have been vaccinated worldwide, with no evidence of long term side-effects.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus. Up to 80 per cent of males and females will become infected by 50 years of age. In addition to cancer of the cervix, HPV has been implicated in the development of cancers of the vulva, penis, anus and throat. Its eradication offers significant preventive health gains.

Confidence in the vaccine can be restored by means of a robust “winning hearts and minds” campaign. Many parents declining HPV on behalf of teenagers have no difficulty immunising younger children with other vaccines.

The reasons for selective vaccine rejection must be teased out. Similarly a recent global survey found a dichotomy between those who felt that vaccines are important for children to have, and those who agreed that vaccines are safe.

As part of a WHO response, the HSE’s National Immunisation Office must explore attitudinal subtleties among Irish parents as a key step in restoring HPV vaccine confidence.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.