Local cancer survivor says informed debate needed on HPV vaccine

A cancer survivor in the North West says she would have jumped at the chance to get a vaccine that would prevent her type of cancer.

Well-known cancer services campaigner in Sligo Catriona McGoldrick has been commenting on figures from the newly-formed HPV Vaccination Alliance.

They show a dramatic drop in the uptake of the potentially life-saving vaccine in Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer in women aged 25 to 39.

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.

The new HPV Vaccination Alliance which is made up of a number of health, children and women’s groups in Ireland has expressed alarm at the dramatic fall in numbers availing of the HSE’s school vaccination programme.

New figures released by the group this week show that the uptake by girls in the Sligo Leitrim area is now down to 70% in the 2015/2016 school year.

That’s down from an uptake of over 87% the previous year.

In Donegal, the uptake is also down dramatically from almost 91% to 71%

The HPV vaccine is a controversial subject and concerns about its side effects has led to the setting up of groups like REGRET by parents concerned about the side-effects they claim their daughters have experienced as a result of getting the vaccine.

But medics state there’s no proof that the side effects are as a result of the vaccine which multiple studies worldwide by public health experts have concluded is extremely safe.

Cancer campaigner in county Sligo Catriona McGoldrick says she did not think twice about getting this vaccine for her daughter a few years ago.

She says if such a vaccine was available to prevent her breast cancer she would have jumped at the chance to avail of it and she says an informed debate is needed on this issue: