Limerick sees 'dramatic drop-off' in numbers availing of cancer preventing HPV vaccine

Limerick sees 'dramatic drop-off' in numbers availing of anti-cancer HPV vaccine

Women are being urged to get the HPV vaccine

LIMERICK has seen a dramatic fall in the uptake of a cancer-preventing vaccine, a newly-formed vaccination alliance has warned.

There has seen a noticeable decline in the uptake of the HPV vaccine, which protects against the strains of Human Papilloma Virus, which causes seven in ten cases of cervical cancer in women.

In the 2015/2016 school year, 267 Limerick schoolgirls declined the offer of the free vaccine.

Some 74% of girls eligible to receive the vaccine in Limerick availed of it, down from 86.7% the previous year.

Provisional figures show that uptake fell even more sharply in 2016/2017, falling to as low as 50% nationally.

In response, more than 30 organisations, including leading health, children and women’s groups, have come together to express their alarm at this dramatic and life-threatening fall in numbers.

“No woman should have the choice of having a biological family taken away from them because they did not receive a safe and life-saving vaccine.

“That’s why it’s important that we do all we can to ensure the public know all the facts about the HPV vaccine,” said Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. 

“Not only does cervical cancer kill 90 women in Ireland each year, it leaves many more infertile due to the side effects of harsh and invasive medical treatment for the disease,” said Ms O’Connor.

This year alone, up to 420 people in Ireland will be diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection.

Almost 300 of these will be cervical cancer cases.

A further 6,500 women will need hospital treatment to remove precancerous growths in their cervix caused by HPV.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer in women aged 25 to 39. In 2017, more than 90 Irish women will die from cervical cancer and those who survive will need intensive treatment.