The 2020/21 schools HPV vaccine programme is now available to all students in first year of secondary school. The HSE would like to build on last year’s success with the participation rate for the HPV vaccine programme now at 81% for the first dose of the vaccine given in Autumn 2019.
This is an increase of 31 points since 2017. The administration of the second dose of the HPV vaccine, due in March 2020, was impacted by COVID-19 pandemic related school closures. Many school vaccination teams have held catch up clinics for students who missed the second dose of the vaccine. Any student who was unable to attend these clinics will be offered an additional opportunity to complete their vaccination schedule during this academic year.
HPV is a virus that can cause cervical and other cancers like anal cancer in men and women. The HPV vaccine protects young people from getting the HPV viruses that may cause cancer and genital warts when they grow up.
MenACWY and Tdap vaccines are also administered to first year students as part of the school immunisation programme.
HPV vaccine campaigner, Laura Brennan, would have turned 28 today. The increase in participation is, in no small part, due to the tireless work of Laura and her family. She sadly died in March 2019 of cervical cancer.
With high uptake of the HPV vaccine there is the potential to save 112 lives each year by preventing the most common strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer and other cancers. The HPV vaccine protects against 9 out of 10 HPV cancers. The HPV virus can cause cancers and conditions that can affect everyone, making it extremely important for all young people to get the vaccine.
Dr. Lucy Jessop, Director of the National Immunisation Office, HSE, stated:
We’re very pleased with the uptake figures of 81% for the first dose of HPV vaccine last year. This year is challenging. We’re delivering a school vaccination programme in the midst of a global pandemic but HPV vaccine is no less important this year than any other and we don’t want to lose the positive momentum we have on this. I encourage parents to read the information from the HSE and speak to a trusted health professional if they have any questions before signing the consent form for their child. We are now coming into a time where we could eliminate certain types of cancer caused by the HPV virus and what a great legacy this would be to leave our children and grandchildren and what a way to honour the memory and tireless work of Laura Brennan and her family.
60,000 information packs are now being delivered to schools across the country as HSE Vaccination Teams start their school visits.
The vaccine is endorsed by major medical and scientific bodies worldwide including the World Health Organization, the Centres for Disease Control in the USA, the EU funded European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
For more information on the HPV Vaccine Schools Programme visit here.
The School Immunisation teams have been inviting students who were due 4 in 1 and MMR vaccine (Junior Infants) and HPV and MenACWY (1st year students) to HSE clinics across the country and good attendance at these clinics has been reported.
Some examples of summer catch up vaccination clinics:
- Leitrim’s GAA Centre of Excellence offered to provide a centre to hold catch up sessions for school vaccinations across the region
- Dublin North invited over 8,000 students to complete their vaccinations in the National Show Centre Swords
- South Lee offered mop up clinic appointments and vaccinated over 3,300 students during the summer months
- 2,100 Wicklow children vaccinated by the Wicklow School Immunisation Team
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