The HPV vaccine is currently available in 20 out of 23 public sexually-transmitted infection (STI) clinics in Ireland, with one additional clinic having commenced HPV vaccination last month, an Executive spokesperson told the <strong><em>Medical Independent</em></strong> (<strong><em>MI</em></strong>).
“It is not possible to calculate HPV vaccine uptake rates, as many services are not able to provide data on the number of patients attending services for the eligible age category,” said the HSE spokesperson. “However, we are seeing an improvement in provision across services as the vaccine becomes more available.”
In terms of HIV clinics, the HSE spokesperson said that the HPV vaccine is currently available in six out of seven adult public HIV clinics in Ireland.
“In 2017, 29 eligible people living with HIV commenced the HPV vaccine, 22 received the second dose and nine have completed all three doses of the vaccine,” the HSE spokesperson added. The HSE provided no figures for 2018 so far.
As reported in <strong><em>MI</em></strong> last November, challenges with staff resources, particularly nursing staff, has had a negative impact on the roll-out of the HPV service in STI and HIV clinics. However, the HSE spokesperson said that staffing issues have improved since late last year.
“Most services have incorporated provision of the HPV vaccine into their workload. Four services received funding for an additional nursing resource to support this work. These nurses are now in place,” said the spokesperson.
In October 2016, the HPV vaccination was extended to HIV-positive men and women aged from 16-to-26 years attending public HIV services. In January 2017 the HPV vaccination was extended to MSM aged 16-to-26 years attending public STI clinics.
Separately, the falling uptake level of the HPV vaccine among schoolgirls has been a source of much controversy and political debate in recent years. However, recent months have seen a reversal in this downward trend, with an increase in uptake numbers among schoolgirls.
Earlier this year, the HSE confirmed that preliminary figures show that the majority of girls received the first dose of the vaccine in the 2017/18 programme. According to Dr Brenda Corcoran, Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office: “We have seen a national uptake rate of around 62 per cent — 11 per cent higher than our preliminary figure from last year of 51 per cent.”