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HSE launches HPV Vaccination Programme and Information Campaign

The vaccine saves lives by preventing the most common strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Announcing the commencement of the Schools Programme, Dr Stephanie O’Keeffe, HSE National Director, Health and Wellbeing, confirmed that over 40,000 information packs will be delivered across the country this week in advance of the HSE Vaccination Teams starting their scheduled post-primary school visits in September, when first year girls will get the first of two doses of the vaccine.

Dr O’Keeffe stated: “We know that there are many conflicting and misleading sources of information out there. The only Irish website containing information that has been formally accredited by the World Health Organisation is We strongly urge all parents, teenagers, and interested parties to visit this trusted source where they will learn about the vaccine – how it saves lives and its excellent safety record. Their local vaccination teams are there to support them and answer any questions, along with their local GPs and local pharmacists.”

While the HSE remains concerned regarding the significant drop in uptake rates that has occurred over the past two years, with rates dropping from 90 per cent to around 50 per cent last year, provisional HSE data from April this year showed some stabilisation occurring.

According to Dr O’Keeffe: “Although this information is provisional, and we remain very concerned at the current rates, it does tell us that parents would seem to be hearing the message that this vaccine is safe and effective – it offers their daughters a life without cervical cancer.”

Addressing today’s launch, Prof Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, Clinical Professor of Paediatrics, Consultant Paediatrician and Infectious Diseases Specialist at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, stressed: “Over 230,000 girls in Ireland have safely received the HPV vaccine, along with 227 million people worldwide in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Not one of these people anywhere in the world has been medically proven to have had a long term side effect from getting the vaccine.

“This is a vaccine that can save lives. It works. In Scotland where their vaccination programme has been in place since 2008, they have seen a 90 per cent decrease in HPV infections. In Australia the vaccine has prevented one in every two new cervical cancers.”

According to Prof Grainne Flannelly, Clinical Director CervicalCheck and Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, National Maternity Hospital, Holles St: “Ireland has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Western Europe. Every year over 90 women die from cervical cancer. Over 280 women – many young – need treatment for invasive cervical cancer. Over 6,500 women will need hospital treatment for a precancerous form of cervical cancer.

“As a consultant gynaecologist, I see all too frequently the impact of HPV infections and the reality of cervical cancer. The evidence for the vaccine is compelling. We have a very real possibility now of eliminating cervical cancer in future generations of Irish women. But to achieve that we need urgently to address our uptake rates and restore them to provide protection.”

Endorsing the Information Campaign, HSE Director General, Mr Tony O’Brien noted: “The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that vaccine hesitancy is one of the top three issues for health in Europe. That is despite the fact that the World Health Organisation and the European Commission said that in the last 60 years vaccines have saved more children’s lives than any other intervention. I am here today to support Irish parents in accessing information from trusted, scientific and evidence based sources like and getting their daughters vaccinated.”

The HSE is today launching an Information Campaign – part of its ongoing work to inform and support parents. The Executive said updated information packs have been sent to all parents, with the time provided to parents to give their consent extended. At the same time, the HSE is promoting new and informative videos online and on social media, where much of the misinformation about the vaccine circulates.

The schedule also involves three weeks of national and regional radio advertising, starting today, along with social media promotion, digital search advertising and organic social media posts on Facebook and Twitter. 

Dr O’Keeffe today thanked all partner organisations who have been promoting the HPV vaccine through the Irish Cancer Society’s HPV Alliance: “We want to thank in particular the Irish College of General Practitioners and the Irish Pharmacy Union for joining us in support of the vaccine by providing advice to parents and girls, and by displaying new HPV vaccine posters in GP practices and pharmacies throughout the country.”

The vaccine is endorsed by major medical and scientific bodies worldwide including the World Health Organisation, the Centres for Disease Control in the US, the EU-funded European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

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  5. UK Families Affected By HPV Vaccination on September 1, 2017 at 2:11 pm


    Media reports of families in Ireland who have reported serious health problems experienced by their daughters after HPV vaccination have been read by families in the UK and beyond. The UK Time For Action campaign team want to take this opportunity to express our support for these vulnerable Irish families and our alarm at the media attacks and these families being labelled as ’emotional terrorists’.

    Whilst we appreciate that the HPV vaccination may have been given to millions of girls without adverse reactions and that it may well be of health benefit to them in the future, we write as parents of girls who have developed severe, life-limiting illnesses within close proximity of having the HPV vaccination. Our daughters have been ill for a long time, in some cases for 8+ years – they have had their education compromised and those older are having to review their career aspirations as their continuing illness affects their employability.

    Currently, the UK Government does not acknowledge any link between the vaccination and their illness, but we should point out that legal action is taking place in France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Columbia and large awards have already been made by the US Vaccine Court. We believe it is only a matter of time before the UK Government will have to recognise that for some girls there is a serious problem with having the HPV vaccination.

    We strongly feel that we were not provided with sufficient information about the vaccination prior to it being given to our daughters and, in some cases, girls were scared into having the vaccination by promotional materials and stories in the press (for example Jade Goody, Michael Douglas). However, it was not communicated to them or us that more than 95% of HPV infections will clear from the body naturally with no intervention; that for most women smear tests are an effective way of avoiding cervical cancer and that there are many factors associated with lifestyle that can increase the risk of developing cervical cancer (for example: smoking, high number of sexual partners, poor nutrition, long-term use of the contraceptive pill).Outstanding issues in respect to girls in the UK are as follows:

    – We believe the number of reported suspected adverse reactions to the HPV vaccination is very high in comparison to other vaccinations, but the vaccine is only given to girls. 30% of the reported events are categorised as serious. We don’t believe there is sufficient follow up and investigation of these reports.

    – The MHRA say there are no safety concerns, but we do not have confidence that the side effects reported have been sufficiently investigated. It should be noted that the concerns we are raising around reporting processes have parallels to concerns from campaigners for other health issues that have been reported in the press. It should also be noted that the initial concerns raised about the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine triggering narcolepsy were later substantiated.

    – There is an outstanding complaint of maladministration against the EMA with the EU Ombudsman concerning the 2015 investigation into POTS/CRPS as suspected side effects of the HPV vaccination. The complaint made by the Nordic Cochrane Group raised very serious points about why the EMA investigation did not appear to be thorough or transparent.

    – We believe there are questions to be answered about whether the targeting of strains 16 & 18 of the HPV virus will lead to other strains becoming stronger and more virulent and possibly causing more cases of cervical cancer in the future.

    – We believe there are questions to be answered around the efficacy of the vaccination. Public Health England is recruiting for a trial to look at the current antibody titres of those having had the vaccination at the start of the programme. For example, Dr Diane Harper, one of the investigators on the clinical trials for the vaccine, has recently published a paper stating that the antibody titres for HPV18 following vaccination with Gardasil are considerably lower than for Cervarix, meaning that for Gardasil protection against HPV18 may have dropped after only two years and after 5 years 35% of those in the study had no detectable HPV18 antibodies.Like the parents in Ireland, we feel that our concerns are not being addressed properly by the UK Government. With families from Ireland and Spain, we raised our concerns to the EMA, as part of the investigation into POTS/CRPS as possible side effects of the HPV vaccination in 2015 and met with them at the time. At the end of the process we took part in a teleconference to inform us of the outcome of the review at which we raised questions and we found the answers given to be unsatisfactory. We continue to raise questions with the UK Department of Health but the answers received from them so far we also find to be largely unsatisfactory. We have ourselves reviewed all of the Yellow Card data from the MHRA and fail to see how anyone can look at the listing of the serious adverse events reported and not see a consistent pattern in the symptoms – or be concerned about the seriousness of many of the individual reports.

    Only yesterday we had sight of a new publication entitled Safety Concerns with HPV Vaccines Continue to Linger: Are Current Vaccine Pharmacovigilance Practices Sufficient? published in Drug Safety journal and authored by Dr Rebecca Chandler from the Uppsala Monitoring Centre. She writes:

    “Since 2013, there have been multiple reports from different countries describing case series of suspected harms of a similar nature after HPV vaccination. The first report was a case series of six girls with POTS from the US [6]. Following soon after were case series descriptions of CRPS from Japan [7], long-lasting fatigue from The Netherlands [8], and orthostatic intolerance and POTS from Denmark [9]. Similar reports from Italy [10], Mexico [11], and Colombia [12] have subsequently been described. Each of the reports details multiple symptoms experienced by patients, including headache, fatigue, dizziness, pain, cognitive dysfunction, and sleep disturbances. Often also reported are abdominal complaints and skin rashes, as well as sensory disturbances and motor weakness in the extremities. Although a variety of diagnostic labels are suggested by the different authors, a feature of dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system is consistent between all the reported case series.”
    The paper goes on to discuss findings from researchers in Japan, USA and Denmark and concludes:

    “Taken together, these findings may indicate that vaccination has served as a trigger for manifestation of an underlying autoimmune disorder in genetically predisposed individuals. Continued research may lead to identification of subgroups at risk of autonomic dysfunction whose considerations for HPV vaccination might be different from those who are not.”
    Those labelling affected parents in Ireland as ‘emotional terrorists’ should perhaps look at the wider picture and recognise that this is not just a problem in Ireland – girls and families across the world are reporting similar symptoms and unexplained long-term illness after receiving the HPV vaccination, including girls from the UK. Many of us are reluctant to speak publically, but we feel the need to support each other. We are ordinary families who followed Government guidelines and vaccinated our daughters and we didn’t expect to find ourselves in this position. Some humanity should be shown to families who find themselves in this vulnerable situation.

    UK Families Affected by the HPV Vaccination

    Tel: 07885 422690


    Jade Goody:

    Michael Douglas:

    Vaginal Mesh tape injuries:

    Nordic Cochrane complaint to EU Ombudsman:

    Dr Diane Harper, HPV vaccines – A review of the first decade:

    Dr Rebecca Chandler, Safety Concerns with HPV Vaccines Continue to Linger: Are Current Vaccine Pharmacovigilance Practices Sufficient? Full article here:

  6. Jackie Fletcher on August 31, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    I note from the article that 40,000 information packs are to be delivered across the country. Will those packs include the vaccine manufacturer’s information leaflets? Will the parents and their daughters receive these as a matter of course? If not, why not?

    If parents do not give consent will that decision be respected by the doctor or nurse? Will the girl be questioned and intimidated if the parents withhold consent? Will headteachers and staff respect the parents’ decision if they don’t want their daughters to be vaccinated or will the girls be singled-out and bullied into making their ‘own’ decision?

    Will parents be encouraged to attend when their daughters are given the vaccines in case of adverse reactions?

    Your article also states that the vaccine has an ‘excellent safety record’. I do not know how in the current climate anyone can claim this. The vaccine has been used for many years in the US and thousands of girls have been reported as suffering severe life-changing events following serious reactions. Deaths have been reported too. The US National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has compensated 47 for injury and 2 for deaths as at 7th March 2013 (1).

    In Colombia (2) and Japan (3) there are large multi-party class actions against the manufacturers.

    First-hand accounts of severe problems in previously healthy girls are coming in from all around the world and on your own doorstep, Ireland, there is a large group of more than 300 girls. Until each and every one of these girls have been examined and their medical histories scrutinised the claim of an excellent safety record is premature.

    Prof Karina Butler stressed: ‘….Not one of these people anywhere in the world has been medically proven to have had a long term side effect from getting the vaccine.’

    Prof Butler may be unaware that the European Union’s Court of Justice has recently ruled that courts may consider vaccines to be the cause of an illness, even in the absence of scientific evidence confirming a link.
    The finding states that the proximity between a person getting a vaccine and the occurrence of a disease, as well as the lack of personal and familial history of the illness and the existence of a significant number of reported cases of the disease occurring following such vaccines being administered “may, where applicable, constitute sufficient evidence to make out such proof”.
    In its ruling, the court said: “Where there is a lack of scientific consensus, the proof of the defect of the vaccine and of a causal link between the defect and the damage suffered may be made out by serious, specific and consistent evidence.”
    Prof Butler may live to regret her claims. Certainly many parents in Ireland and worldwide regret their decision to give HPV to their children.



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