Seanad debates

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

10:30 am

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Yesterday, despite all the votes taking place in the House, and I was here for most of them, I was still able to attend a conference in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland where Professor Ian Frazer, who developed the human papilloma virus, HPV vaccine, gave a lecture. It is sad that there were protests outside the college and outside the Dáil by people who were alleging that the vaccine has negative effects. The evidence in Australia is that there has been a 90% drop in the number of women under the age of 30 who are infected with the virus as a result of the comprehensive programme operated in Australia since 2007. Australia introduced the programme of vaccination for girls in 2007 and for boys in 2013. The number of women with the HPV virus between the ages of 18 and 24 has dropped from more than 22% to 1%. That is clear evidence from Australia that the HPV vaccine works. It is successful in respect of nine strains of the virus. It has worked very well yet we are hearing negative comments being made about the vaccine programme here in Ireland. The uptake of the vaccine here dropped to an uptake of 50% two years ago but that is back up to 60%. From September, we should have a comprehensive programme to get out the information on the vaccine to ensure the uptake is increased to 70% or 75%. We should also introduce the vaccine for boys, which was done in Australia. I ask the Leader to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister and that, if possible, the Minister would come into the House at the start of the next term to outline the programme to ensure that Oireachtas Members are fully aware of its benefits. At a time when we are talking about failures in the system, we should talk now about the positive developments that have occurred in this area. In that regard, we need to make a big effort in the coming months.


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