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The NIO, along with other public health bodies, has in recent months stepped-up its campaign to try and reverse the recent fall in uptake levels of the HPV vaccine among schoolgirls.
According to minutes of the March meeting of the NIO, seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request, the NIO is considering taking its message to the National Ploughing Championship.
The Championship takes place in Tullamore, Co Offaly, from 19-21 September and over 250,000 visitors would be expected to attend the festival.
“Further discussion required on promotion of HPV vaccine — propose doing some media advertisements and possibly setting up a stand at the National Ploughing Championship,” read the minutes of the NIO’s March meeting.
However an NIO spokesperson told MI that it “has not yet decided” whether to go ahead with the stall.
The minutes also noted close correspondence between the NIO and the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding the HPV vaccine. The February minutes also stated that the WHO was “very concerned at what is happening in Ireland and have offered any assistance we require”.
An NIO spokesperson told MI that it is in ongoing liaison with the WHO. “WHO’s Europe Head of Immunisation gave two presentations at a national HPV vaccine conference on 19 May in Dublin and participated in many media interviews supporting the work of HSE and Department of Health.”
Last month, the HSE said that it was “encouraged” by the most recent uptake levels, which showed an increase in HPV vaccine uptake in some areas of the country but the Executive was still concerned at the overall low level of uptake.