Health Minister praises late campaigner Laura Brennan as free HPV vaccine to be rolled out 6 months ago

Health Minister praises late campaigner Laura Brennan as free HPV vaccine to be rolled out

The vaccine will now be available to all women up to the age of 25.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said Ireland owes the late Laura Brennan a “huge amount” for her work campaigning for the introduction of a free HPV vaccine.

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It comes after it was announced that the vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer caused by the HPV virus, will be made available free to all women under 25.

Currently, it is given to first year secondary school students for free.

Mr Donnelly said he had written to the HSE asking it to outline a vaccination programme for women, as well as a catch-up programme for girls and boys in secondary school who missed out during the pandemic.

He said Ireland can “eradicate cervical cancer over time”.

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"Very pleased to announce that we are planning a catch-up programme for the HPV vaccine," he wrote.

"This is an incredibly effective vaccine and young people should be able to access it without a prohibitive cost barrier. I have asked the HSE to operationalise this.

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"Our goal it to eradicate cervical cancer over time. And we will. Ireland is the only country in the western world to reverse a crisis in confidence in HPV vaccination.

"We owe patient advocate Laura Brennan, an incredible campaigner, and her family a huge amount."

Laura was diagnosed with terminal cancer in September 2017. She spent years raising awareness of the cancer and promoting the uptake of the HPV vaccine.

At the time, she said she was "the reality of an unvaccinated girl", adding: "What kills me though is that all this could have been prevented."

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She tragically passed away in March 2019, at the age of 26.

Last year, a portrait of Laura was commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians Ireland to honour her for her "outstanding contribution to vaccine advocacy".