Cervical Cancer Vaccination campaign underway for 57,000 girls across Ireland

The Health Service Executive today (Thursday) announced that the
nationwide HPV vaccination campaign is now underway, and will help protect
more than 57,000 schoolgirls from developing cervical cancer as adults.

The vaccine “ Gardasil“ is free of charge and is being offered to all
girls attending first and second year of second level schools, according
to head of the HSE National Immunisation Office, Dr Brenda Corcoran.

In Ireland, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in the
country among females aged 15 to 44. HPV or Human Papillomavirus, is
proven to cause cervical cancer. It is a common virus – about 80% of
people will have a HPV infection during their lifetime.

˜Even though it will take time for the impact of the vaccination programme
to be seen, this vaccine will help protect the future health of this
generation of young girls, and the generations to come.

˜Gardasil is a safe and fully tested vaccine which protects against the
main cancer-causing strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and will
eventually save around 60 lives in Ireland every year. Around 250 women
are diagnosed with cervical cancer here annually, with around 80 deaths.
The HPV vaccine will prevent at least 70% of these cases.

˜Informed consent is a critical element of any vaccination campaign, and
all parents should be informed about the vaccine their daughters will
receive information that comes from verifiable, credible and unbiased
sources.

˜All parents of girls who are getting the vaccine are given a detailed
information booklet and consent form from the HSE. We also encourage all
parents to visit our website www.hpv.ie, where they can read all about HPV
and the vaccine, and see many links to international scientific
information and evidence about the value and safety of this vaccine. We
have seen a high uptake of the vaccine so far in Ireland and are confident
that this will continue with the girls starting in September.

Most of the vaccinations will be administered in schools by HSE
immunisation teams, with some girls being invited to HSE clinics for their
vaccine. When it is time for their daughter’s vaccine, parents or
guardians will receive an information pack and consent form from the HSE,
via the school.

˜Gardasil will save lives and is important that first and second year
schoolgirls get vaccinated. Like Ireland, every one of the many countries
implementing HPV vaccination programmes are doing so in the best interest
of their citizens – to maximize health, prevent disease and prolong life,
said Dr Corcoran.˜Cervical cancer is proven to be caused by HPV. Giving
your daughter the
HPV vaccine is safe, is very worthwhile, and will protect her now, for her
future.
For more information on the HPV vaccine programme and on cervical cancer
visit www.hpv.ie “ a dedicated HSE website with a range of links to
national and international information on HPV and cervical cancer.

ENDS

Note for editors “ additional information on cervical cancer and Gardasil

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the entrance to the womb. Each
year in Ireland, about 250 women get cervical cancer, and 80 women die
from it.

Worldwide 70% of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to certain
strains (types 16 and 18) of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Gardasil
protects against these strains. HPV is common and there are more than
100 types, some of which are easily recognizable such as the ones that
cause common warts that might typically be found on a person’s hands. Most
people will get a HPV infection during their lifetime. The majority of
these infections do not need treatment, but in some women, some HPV types
can cause changes in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer.

By March 2009, over 60 million doses of Gardasil had been distributed
worldwide either as part of national immunisation programmes or by private
doctors. Gardasil has been tried and tested in large clinical studies
which lasted more than a decade and which included over 25,000 subjects in
33 countries. All the evidence has shown that it is safe and effective.
The most frequently reported side effects were local redness or swelling
at the point of injection, and fever. These are the typically mild and
temporary reactions seen after any kind of vaccination.

As with all vaccines, there is extensive monitoring in place for Gardasil
to detect any unusual and unexpected events after vaccination.
Surveillance is carried out by the vaccine manufacturer and also
independently by the Irish Medicines Board. The IMB has stated that since
2006, it has received 10 adverse reaction reports associated with
Gardasil, and only one since the vaccination programme began in May. These
reports were, as expected, primarily local, mild and temporary reaction
like having a sore arm or a temperature“ and very like other normal
short-lived vaccine reactions.

Three doses of the vaccine are needed over a 6 to 12 month period to give
full protection. The vaccine protects against 7 out of 10 cervical
cancers, so it is still important for girls to have regular smear tests
when they are adults. Vaccination information for this programme will be
shared with the National Cancer Screening Service, so that they can be
linked to future cancer screening records.

The vaccine is given to girls in this age group (approx 12 years) to make
sure that protection from HPV is in place well before adulthood, or likely
exposure to this common virus.

This vaccine used in the HSE’s programme is called Gardasil and is
manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur MSD. All vaccines, including Gardasil,
undergo a series of detailed safety and effectiveness trials, carried out
over several years before they can be given to the public. After
licensing, the safety and effectiveness profile continues to be checked
and the results of these trials are feely available to read on the
internet and via our www.hpv.ie website.

Professor. Margaret Stanley, Professor of Pathology at the University of
Cambridge, is an expert in HPV and cervical cancer. Speaking recently
when she visited Ireland to provide an update to HSE staff who will be
giving HPV vaccines, Professor Stanley was highly critical of what she
describes as some of the ill-informed commentary on the subject. ˜Every
bit of information we have says that the HPV vaccines are very safe
vaccines – and this is not just my opinion, this is the opinion of the US
Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency, and the
Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia. These are the
international experts and authorities, and they have the responsibility to
make sure that medicines and products are safe before they go out to
public. All of them have made public statements and all have said that
both HPV vaccines have a very good safety profile.

HPV Vaccine – Protect now, for the future

www.hpv.ie

1850 24 1850

Rosaleen Harlin
HSE Area Communications Manager
Dublin North East
Kells

Tel: 046 9280576/ 087 8291416