The HPV vaccine saved 42 lives last year – we can save even more in 2019


Statement from the HPV Vaccination Alliance to mark International HPV Awareness Day, Monday 4 March:

Parents across Ireland can potentially save their teenage daughters’ lives by ensuring they get the HPV vaccine. The 40 health, children, women’s and civil society groups that form the HPV Vaccination Alliance urge parents to ensure their daughters get vaccinated when immunisation teams visit their schools this month.

Around two-in-three girls availed of the HPV vaccine when offered to them in the last school year. As a result, of those who got the vaccine last year alone, 126 will be spared a devastating cervical cancer diagnosis, and 42 of these lives will be saved.

But we can save many more lives. Currently cervical cancer kills 90 women in Ireland each year – almost two women each week. Those who survive are often left with the devastating impacts of treatment like never being able to have children.

Together with a screening service of the highest quality, we can eliminate cervical cancer, save 90 women’s lives in Ireland each year, and spare 2,500 women* a life-changing diagnosis of this disease in the decades ahead.

The HPV vaccine is safe and saves lives. It is necessary for anyone assigned female at birth regardless of their gender identity (for example trans men).  To those girls who received the first dose of the vaccine in September, we urge their parents to ensure they get the second dose this month for best protection.

Those who said no to the vaccine in autumn now have a chance to change their mind. We encourage them to seek credible information about this vaccine. It is really important parents base their decisions on medical advice and scientific evidence and don’t allow themselves to be misled by dangerous and discredited anti-vaccination myths on social media.

*Source: Impact of scaled up human papillomavirus vaccination and cervical screening and the potential for global elimination of cervical cancer in 181 countries, 2020–99: a modelling study. Published in ‘Lancet Oncology’, Feb 2019

Ireland’s girls have a second chance to get a life-saving vaccine. Let’s not waste it

Statement from the HPV Vaccination Alliance to mark the first International HPV Awareness Day, Sunday, 4th March:

“Around 300 women each year in Ireland are diagnosed with a cancer caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Vaccination can stop this and save up to 100 lives here each year.

“Over the next two months immunisation teams will visit second-level schools to administer the second dose of the HPV vaccine to girls. Those who chose not to get the first dose last autumn will have the chance to receive it now. On International HPV Awareness Day, we strongly encourage the families of these girls to avail of this safe, effective and life-saving vaccine.

“The HPV Vaccination Alliance was formed last summer to present the facts about this life-saving HPV vaccine which is currently offered for free to secondary school girls. Since then, provisional figures based on the autumn 2017 vaccination programme show that vaccine uptake has risen to 62%, partially reversing two years of decline. While such an increase is a positive step, clearly more work needs to be done to ensure everyone gets the facts about the safe, effective and life-saving HPV vaccine.”

International HPV Awareness Day is led by the International Papillomavirus Society. For more see

Urgent action required to address dramatic fall in uptake of cancer vaccine – HPV Vaccination Alliance

The recent dramatic fall in the uptake of a cancer-preventing vaccine in Ireland requires urgent action to be addressed, the newly-formed HPV Vaccination Alliance has said.

More than 30 organisations, including leading health, children and women’s groups, today came together to express their alarm at recent reports that uptake of the HPV vaccine has fallen to as low as 50% among teenage girls.

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 years. In 2017, more than 90 Irish women will die from cervical cancer and those who survive will need intensive treatment, such as surgery, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy, to help them overcome this invasive disease. This treatment almost always results in infertility.

This new school term around 30,000 first-year secondary school girls will be offered the vaccine as part of a national vaccination programme which began in 2010. While uptake of the vaccine reached a high of 87% in the 2014/2015 academic year, in just two years this has fallen to 50%, largely due to misinformation about the vaccine spreading on social media.

Last year’s low uptake will result in a minimum of 40 deaths. Another 100 girls will need life-changing treatment and 1,000 more will need invasive therapy.

In coming together, the HPV Vaccination Alliance is unequivocal: the HPV vaccine is safe and saves lives. To highlight this, Alliance member organisations have signed a Contract Against Cancer.

Under the Contract, the HPV Vaccination Alliance:

ENDORSES the HPV vaccine as a proven and safe way to protect from cancers which can destroy and end lives.

REALISES its obligation to do all we can to protect health and wellbeing by ensuring the facts prevail when it comes to the HPV vaccine.

PLEDGES to raise awareness of the HPV vaccine and its benefits in stopping cancer and saving lives.

The ability to spare our country’s children and adults the devastation of a cancer diagnosis can become a reality. The Alliance believes it has a duty to act urgently to prevent future hardship and save lives.

At today’s launch of the Alliance, Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society, said:

“When it comes to the HPV vaccine, the jury is in – the vaccine is safe and saves lives. The Irish Cancer Society has been vocal on this issue for quite some time.

“It’s only natural that parents are fearful when they hear claims about a vaccine. It’s terrible that young girls get sick, but to link their illness to a life-saving vaccine when all the research shows no link is dangerous and threatens lives.

“Large studies looking at 3-4 million women, vaccinated and unvaccinated, found no evidence whatsoever that HPV vaccination causes any immune or nervous system disorder.  The World Health Organisation and the European Medicines Agency have concluded that the injection is safe and has no link to any serious illnesses.

“All the evidence does show, however, that the vaccine prevents cervical cancer. That’s why the decision parents make now on the vaccine can have serious consequences for their daughters.”

Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), added:

“At our most recent AGM, NWCI members voted to fully support all efforts around increasing the uptake of the HPV vaccine. We see this issue as hugely concerning for women’s health.”

“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. These are lasting consequences which young women – and their parents – will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

“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.”

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, added:

“We are calling on the parents of Ireland to consent to the vaccine to protect the health of their daughters. The vaccine is free, safe and may save their daughters’ lives.

“We have joined forces with the partners of the HPV Vaccination Alliance to encourage uptake in the coming school year and going forwards. We need to separate facts from fiction and ensure the message is spread that this vaccine is potentially life-saving.”


Health, children and women’s groups come together to sign a Contract Against Cancer at launch of new HPV Vaccination Alliance

The Irish Cancer Society will be joined by the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Children’s Rights Alliance, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, Union of Students in Ireland and many others to sign a ‘Contract Against Cancer’ at the launch of a new HPV Vaccination Alliance this Wednesday, 9 August.

More than 20 organisations, including leading health, children and women’s groups, will come together to express their alarm at recent reports that uptake of the HPV vaccine has fallen to as low as 50% among teenage girls.

The HPV Vaccination Alliance has been set up ahead of the new school year and encourages everyone to look at the real facts surrounding this life-saving vaccine.