The HPV vaccine programme has all but been forgotten about during the pandemic
During the month of March we've discussed many health issues affecting the lives of Irish women everyday.
Among these topics one thing that has arisen is that during the pandemic many health services such as breast examinations have been pushed back or cancelled.
One programme in particular that has suffered during all of the lockdowns and school closures has been that of the HPV vaccine.
Due to schools running mainly online for the last year, very few teenagers have received the HPV vaccination.
Generally students, both male and female, in their first year of secondary school are offered the HPV vaccine as part of the school vaccination programme, but as schools have been closed due to Covid these vaccinations have not taken place.
HPV is known to be one of the leading causes of cervical cancer which 90 women in Ireland die from every year.
The HSE recently released this statement regarding the HPV vaccine programme;
"The HSE School Immunisation Programme has been paused as school teams are now giving the COVID-19 Vaccine. This decision was made by the COVID-19 National Immunisation Taskforce responsible for the National Covid Vaccination Campaign.
The school teams know what students need to get their vaccines. Contact will be made with parents and guardians when the programme restarts.
The HSE school vaccination programme may need to be done in a different venue or may be delayed because of Covid-19. The HSE will try to keep these changes to a minimum.
There is no requirement to restart the HPV vaccine schedule if the schedule is interrupted because of Covid-19."
The HPV vaccine is most effective before the virus has a chance to be introduced to the body through sexual activity which is why it is usually given at the start of secondary school.
Because of this it's incredibly important that the vaccine programme resumes as quickly as possible, but when will that be?
The family of HPV vaccine advocate Laura Brennan recently called for the HPV vaccination programme to be reinstated as soon as possible.
Laura passed away in 2019 after battling cervical cancer. She was only 27 at the time of her passing.
Her family still advocate for the vaccine in her name and strongly believe that it is a vaccine that saves lives.