Thursday, May 20, 2010

Irish Times: Cervical vaccination programme begins


Wed, May 19, 2010

A 13-YEAR-OLD student who wrote to Minister for Health Mary Harney last year to complain about the lack of a national cervical vaccination programme has become one of the first to be vaccinated now that the national programme has finally commenced.

Sadbh Scully from Dundrum, Dublin, was among 40 students to receive the HPV vaccine at Jesus and Mary College, Our Lady’s Grove, Goatstown, yesterday.

First-year students at it and 20 other schools are being offered the vaccine before the summer break in the first phase of the national cervical cancer vaccination programme.

Sadbh said she felt very privileged to be among the first to get the vaccine under the national programme.

She wrote to Ms Harney after the death of Jade Goody from cervical cancer saying it was unfair that the vaccine was not being offered to Irish girls. She argued that the vaccination programme could be provided for less than the amount spent on the new Samuel Beckett bridge in the city.

The HSE said the first vaccinations went well, with most students opting to avail of the vaccine, other than those who will be on holiday in July when they will require a second dose.

The vaccine, which protects against 70 per cent of cervical cancer strains, must be given in three doses. The second dose has to be given two months after the first dose and the third six months after the first dose.

Dr Maureen O’Leary, senior medical officer with the HSE, who led the immunisation team at the Goatstown school, said she was happy with the uptake and the response from girls and parents.

First-year students not vaccinated before the summer holidays will be vaccinated when schools return in September. And sixth-class students going into second-level schools in September will also be offered the vaccination at that stage.

About 250 women get cervical cancer each year, and 80 women die from it. The HPV vaccination programme, in conjunction with smear testing, is expected to reduce that death toll in coming years.

© 2010 The Irish Times