Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said that the HSE decision to offer a catch-up HPV vaccine to teenage girls, who missed out of the first dose of the injection, will protect and ultimately save lives.

The Senator was commenting following reports todays that thousands of schoolgirls who did not get the cervical cancer vaccine last autumn are to be offered a second chance to receive it in the coming weeks. This follows a fall-off in take-up of the vaccination in the wake of unfounded fears and conflicting reports about its safety.

“It is clear that there is unease among many parents of girls who are due to receive the HPV vaccine about potential side effects which have been circulated as part of an anti-vaccination campaign. This unease needs to be addressed otherwise young lives will continue to be put at risk,” explained Senator Clifford-Lee.

“As a parent myself, I worry about the long-term health of our children, but we must trust the advice provided by health professionals, from the WHO, Irish Cancer Society and the Chief Medical Officer which confirms that the HPV vaccine is safe and can save lives.

“The HPV vaccine protects against two types of HPV that cause 73% of all cervical cancers which is the second most common cancer in the country among females aged 15 to 44. In fact, an estimated 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Ireland.

“I’m glad that these vaccines will be offered by vaccination teams as part of a catch-up programme, as I think it will have a long term health benefits to the women of North County Dublin and indeed the country as a whole,” concluded Senator Clifford-Lee.