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01st Apr 2019

Simon Harris says Ireland will eradicate cervical cancer ‘within a generation’ in Laura Brennan’s honour

Jade Hayden

“The increase in the uptake rate is a testament to Laura, her bravery, her courage and her kindness.”

Simon Harris has said that Ireland will eradicate cervical cancer within a generation in honour of Laura Brennan.

The Minister for Health paid tribute to the late HPV vaccine campaigner this weekend following her funeral in Co Clare.

He thanked the 26-year-old for her courage, bravery, and tireless campaigning to ensure that more women are aware of the necessity of the vaccine and the lives it can save.

Writing for The Sun, he said that when Laura began her campaigning the uptake rate for the vaccine was at 51 percent. It’s now at 70 percent.

“Her legacy will be analysed in time and spoken about by those closest to her,” he said. “But today, I want to make a commitment in her name.”

“Within a generation, we will effectively eradicate cervical cancer and we will do so in her honour.

“We will do this with the right policies and the right combination of vaccination and screening. Vaccination saves lives. Conspiracy theories cannot change the facts.”

Harris said that myths, misinformation, and scaremongering around such vaccines can have “devastating” impacts on people’s quality of life.

He urged the public, the media, and the government to “call out” the spread of misinformation to ensure that tragedies that are avoidable are avoided.

“As parents, our priority is to our own children but that does not absolve of us of responsibility to our community,” he said. “To the children of others. And to those who may be vulnerable.”

Laura’s funeral took place last week in her home county of Clare.

Since her cervical cancer diagnosis, she worked tirelessly to campaign for the HPV vaccine and to spread awareness around its necessity.

The vaccine is generally given to girls between the age of 12 and 13 to protect against seven out of 10 cervical cancers.

The vaccine is extremely safe as reviewed by the World Health Organisation.

You can read more about the vaccine here.