The minutes of the National Immunisation Programme, seen by the <strong><em>Medical Independent</em></strong> (<strong><em>MI</em></strong>) following a Freedom of Information request, recorded a growing confidence regarding the increase in uptake. This contrasts sharply with the concerns recorded in meetings in previous months.
“A lot of positive media reports and an increase in requests to commence girls on HPV course,” the September minutes noted.
The November minutes stated that the “website [www.hpv.ie] has had over 910,000 hits, up 31 per cent on this time last year”. It also reported that the National Immunisation Programme kept a close eye on material posted online, with “social media tracking ongoing”. The minutes reported on a “very positive” reaction to the most recent round of immunisation in schools.
A HSE spokesperson told <strong><em>MI</em></strong>: “We confirmed that our provisional figures from last year showed an 11 per cent increase in the uptake of the HPV vaccine. That was based on the figure of 51 per cent uptake rate from the 2016/2017 year to a 62 per cent rate from September last year.
“Our vaccination teams visit the schools twice each school year to administer the two doses of the vaccine to first-year girls, with an opportunity for catch-up for any girl who missed out.
“They visit the schools in September/October and return [in] March/April. The most recent figures we provided are based on the September uptake rate from last year and as such, while [they] are still provisional with the numbers to be formally validated, are considered fairly accurate.”
The spokesperson added: “Our vaccination teams are returning to the schools in the coming weeks to administer the second dose and obviously the HSE is seeking to ensure that the upward trend continues and that those who opted for the first dose will receive the second as planned and indeed that any who missed out may use the opportunity to get the vaccine.”
The HSE said it continues to urge parents to access information from trusted sources, including www.hpv.ie (the only HPV-related website accredited by the World Health Organisation) and also to seek information from their GPs, pharmacists and the vaccination teams.