It has been revealed that some GPs are informing people in their late twenties or older that the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is no longer effective, which is not the case.
A Cork GP has revealed she has received messages from people claiming their GPs have informed them they are too old for the vaccine to be effective.
HPV is a virus that can cause cervical cancer, and other cancers in both women and men.
The HPV vaccine aims to protect people from HPV related cancers and is available to men and women in Ireland.
The vaccine has been offered to all first year students, including boys, for the first time this year.
Dr Doireann O’Leary told The Echo that she has received messages on social media from people who are eager to get the HPV vaccine but have been told it may not be effective.
“It’s not necessarily that they’re being refused the vaccine,” she explained.
“But people are being told that it’s not effective either after the age of 26 or after they’ve had intercourse and that’s not the case.
“There is more evidence coming to light lately that the vaccine is effective beyond adolescence and beyond the age of 26,” added Dr O’Leary.
“All healthcare providers should be aware that we can give it beyond school-going age.” One person who messaged the Cork GP said they were 25 and told by their GP the vaccine would not be effective.
They added they were scared and traumatised at getting the same response from two GPs.
Dr O’Leary said that anyone considering getting the vaccine, no matter what age, should speak to their GP about it.
“It is licensed to age 45 so it’s appropriate to give it to men and women up to the age of 45 if they would like to get it,” she explained.
“In some cases, the vaccine is given to people older than 45.
“There is no age limit on it but it is licensed up to 45,” she said.
“I think it’s important that healthcare providers are aware that the evidence is saying we can give it beyond school age.
Dr O’Leary added she would like to see an awareness campaign undertaken by the HSE on the issue to better inform both the public and people working in healthcare.
“I would like to see something from the HSE going out to the general public and to doctors.
“There should be information coming from the HSE to doctors ensuring we’re up to date on the latest guidelines.”
Dr O’Leary stressed that the vaccine is expensive and that beyond school-age, people will have to pay for it.
She added that she was not advocating for everyone to get the vaccine, only those that wished to do so, but that it is available for men and women, not just teenage girls.
“It’s up to everyone to decide whether or not they want the vaccine and each person can have a conversation about risk-benefit with their GP.
“If you talk to your GP about it, you shouldn’t be told that you cannot get it.
“You can get it if you decide it’s the best thing for you.”