A COMMITMENT and timeline to provide the free HPV vaccine to young Clare people must be given by the Department of Health, according to Senator Martin Conway.
Senator Conway’s call coincides with the publication of a new health report recommending a review of options for a HPV vaccine catch-up programme without any commitment to provide free jabs.
This is in conflict with a commitment given by Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte during a Seanad debate last September following representations made by Senator Conway.
Senator Conway has warned the cost of the HPV vaccine is a punitive €600 and is extremely off-putting for people who decided latterly to take up the vaccine, having not done so when the opportunity was initially available in schools.
He said the family of the late HPV Ennis vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan continue to campaign tirelessly for the removal of these costs, as she continues to inspire the people of Clare as well as the entire country.
“We owe it to Laura and the many other women who have fought so bravely on this issue, to ensure we have the highest take-up rate possible of the HPV vaccine in Ireland.”
Fine Gael’s health spokesperson in the Seanad said it is disappointing that the Women’s Health Action Plan contains just a mention of reviewing options for a HPV vaccine catch-up programme, with no action date for implementation.
“The action commits to a review of National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advice on the clinical effectiveness and population wide benefit of providing the HPV vaccine to those who were eligible to receive it but missed or turned down the vaccine, which will inform the development of a potential ‘mop-up’ programme.
“This catch-up programme is something I have called for previously, as waiving costs for those who latterly avail of the HPV Vaccine will help boost take-up and ultimately help in the elimination of cervical cancer.
“I have campaigned to eliminate the costs for people who missed out on the initial vaccine roll out and have spoken with many stakeholders on this issue.
“Minister Donnelly recently confirmed in the Dáil that NIAC is considering the effectiveness of providing the HPV vaccine to girls and boys in secondary school who were eligible to receive HPV vaccine in first year but who did not receive it; and also to women up to 25 years who have left secondary school and who did not receive the vaccine when eligible.
“I would like to see this review completed as soon as possible so we can provide the vaccine to as many young people as possible, with Ireland committed to achieving the WHO target of a 90% HPV vaccine uptake rate.
Last September, Deputy Rabbitte told Senator Conway in the Seanad the HPV vaccine should be available free of charge to all young people under 24 to ensure a 100% take-up.
Asked will the €600 charge be eliminated, Deputy Rabbitte said “Yes, that is the hope”.
By Dan Danaher