Uptake of cervical cancer vaccine has beaten HSE target
THE number of girls receiving a vaccine against the virus that causes cervical cancer has exceeded targets, the HSE said.
More than 42,000 girls have been vaccinated against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) since the scheme was rolled out nationwide four years ago.
And during the 2012/13 school year, 84pc of first year girls were vaccinated, about 4pc above target.
A HSE report on the vaccination scheme said that 97pc of first year girls who receive a first dose finish the three course HPV vaccine.
Meanwhile, a catch up programme for sixth year girls was introduced in 2011 and finished at the end of the 2013/14 school year, also beating targets with 67pc of girls completing the vaccination course.
In total, over the last four years more than 25,000 girls received a vaccine as part of the routine programme and more than 17,500 as part of the catch-up programme.
Most of the vaccinations are carried out at schools with some girls invited to HSE clinics for their vaccine.
Uptake of the vaccine is increasing year-on-year according to Dr Kevin Kelleher, assistant national director of the HSE.
"Staff involved in the programme are to be commended for this achievement and particularly for the impressive retention of girls in the programme, given that 97pc of first year girls and 93pc of sixth years who received a first dose of HPV vaccine completed the three dose schedule," he said.
Each year in Ireland, around 300 women get cervical cancer and 100 die from it. Worldwide, 70pc of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to certain strains of HPV.
The 2014/2015 school programme will provide routine HPV vaccination for all first year girls but the number of vaccines has been reduced to two doses as data has shown that the reduced amount is effective in young girls.
In addition, a Meningococcal C booster is being introduced this year for first year girls and boys.
The vaccine is routinely given to babies but a booster is recommended to provide additional protection to teenagers.