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Plans for HPV vaccination if schools closed

The HSE National Immunisation Office is making plans for provision of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine later this year if schools remain closed, this newspaper has been told.

“Due to school closures and staff being redeployed to Covid-19 work, HPV uptake data for the first dose in 2019-20 is not yet available. They will be made available in due course,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent last month.

“The vaccine programmes in schools were paused when schools closed in March.

“The school immunisation teams are aware of the schools they were due to visit and plans are being made to ensure that children and young people are offered these vaccines. Interrupted courses of vaccines do not need to be restarted, so the children and young people can complete their course when this is offered to them.

“Planning around the provision of immunisation programmes includes for the consideration that schools may be closed.  

“The immunisation programmes will be offered to students with as little disruption as possible.”

Each year in Ireland, about 400 people will be diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV.

In February, before the closure of schools, Dr Lucy Jessop, Director of the National Immunisation Office, said: “We are very encouraged by the uptake for the first dose of HPV vaccine for first-year students since September 2019. This is the first year boys have also been offered the HPV vaccine and school teams are reporting very busy clinics across the country.

“Based on activity at our school clinics, our immunisation teams are confident that this year, we’ll regain the WHO target of 80 per cent uptake for the HPV vaccine nationally.”

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