HPV vaccine uptake increases to 70% but still room for improvement

HPV vaccine uptake increases to 70% but still room for improvement

The HSE confirmed this week that the most recent figures for the uptake rate for the HPV vaccine is at 70%, marking an increase of 20 percentage points in just over two years.

While he said this is certainly an improvement, Dr Paul Kelly, consultant oncologist at Cork University Hospital, said there is room for improvement.

“This is a very positive development but there is still work to be done,” he told the Echo.

“While 70% is an improvement it is still a concern that almost one third of teenage girls are not being vaccinated.

“It’s clear that a lot of work still needs to be done,” he added.

“While 100% uptake is always the aim it may not be that realistic, but we certainly need to see the uptake up around 90%.

“If we get it high enough, there is the potential to eradicate cervical cancer completely which is just incredible.

Dr Kelly advised that, because of the lag period between receiving the vaccine and average age of developing cervical cancer, we may not see the benefits for a number of years.

“Australia have been offering the vaccine to boys and girls for a number of years now with a very high uptake,” he explained.

“The figures they release in the future will tell us what we can expect here.” 

The latest figures were released as the HSE Vaccination Teams return to second level schools across the country to administer the second dose of the vaccine to first year girls.

Health Minister Simon Harris welcomed the increase, saying that “despite significant challenges including the spread of dangerous anti-vaccination myths, these figures show women are continuing to get vaccinated”.

Dr Kelly praised the role that terminal cervical cancer patient Laura Brennan has played in impacting upon the uptake rates.

“She has done brilliant work and has been inspirational with her powerful message and story,” he said.

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