HPV Cervical Cancer Vaccination Programme

- 82% uptake rate for first full year of the vaccination programme -


The Health Service Executive today, Friday 6th January 2012, announced the uptake rates for the first year of the nationwide HPV vaccination campaign, which is targeted at almost 60,000 schoolgirls and will help protect them from developing cervical cancer as adults.


The HSE commenced its HPV vaccination programme in May 2010 in a small number of schools and it was then rolled out nationally from September 2010 to all girls in first and second year of second level schools, as well as those attending special schools and those who are home schooled.


The vaccination programme involved the administration of 3 doses of HPV vaccine scheduled at 0, 2 and 6 months. The programme aimed to achieve 80% uptake for completed course of vaccinations. The programme has been well received with an uptake rate of 82% in its first year. The breakdown by region is given in the table below:-


  HPV vaccine  
1st dose 2nd dose 3rd dose
Target Cohort  Number %  Number  %  Number  % % 3rd dose of those given 1st dose
DML 17,075 14,361 84.1 13,898 81.4 13,967 81.8 97.3
DNE 12,135 10,261 84.6 9,893 81.5 9,956 82.0 97.0
South 15,581 13,081 84.0 12,909 82.9 12,723 81.7 97.3
West 14,394 12,076 83.9 11,927 82.9 11,855 82.4 98.2
National 59,235 49,779 84 48,627 82.1 48,501 81.9 97.4


Dr Kevin Kelleher, HSE, Assistant National Director– Health Protection said‘the staff involved in the programme are to be commended for this achievement and particularly for the impressive retention of girls in the programme, in that 97% of girls who received a first dose of HPV vaccine completed the 3 dose schedule.These are excellent figures for the first year of the programme and are equal to or greater than those achieved in the first year of programmes in other countries e.g. UK and Australia and are a great credit to the staff of the vaccination teams’.


The vaccine – Gardasil – is free of charge and was offered to all girls attending first and second year of second level schools in 2010/2011. Most of the vaccinations were administered in schools by HSE immunisation teams, with some girls being invited to HSE clinics for their vaccine. Prior to their daughter’s vaccination, the HSE sent information packs and consent forms via the school for completion by parents or guardians.


From September 2011 the routine HPV vaccination programme for first year girls continues and in addition there is a catch up programme for all 6th year girls which will continue for the next three years.


For more information on the HPV vaccine programme and on cervical cancer visit www.hpv.ie – which is a dedicated HSE website with a range of links to national and international information on HPV vaccine and cervical cancer.

HPV Vaccine - Protect now, for the future


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Note for editors – additional information on cervical cancer and Gardasil

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix, the entrance to the womb. Each year in Ireland, about 250 women get cervical cancer, and 80 women die from it.

Worldwide 70% of invasive cervical cancers are attributed to certain strains (types 16 and 18) of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Gardasil protects against these strains.  HPV is common and there are more than 100 types, some of which are easily recognizable such as the ones that cause common warts that might typically be found on a person’s hands. Most people will get a HPV infection during their lifetime. The majority of these infections do not need treatment, but in some women, some HPV types can cause changes in the cervix that may develop into cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine used in the HSE’s programme is called Gardasil and is manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur MSD. By the end of June 2011, 79 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed worldwide either as part of national immunisation programmes or by private doctors. Gardasil has been tried and tested in large clinical studies which lasted more than a decade and which included over 25,000 subjects in 33 countries.

As with all vaccines, there is extensive monitoring in place for Gardasil to detect any unusual and unexpected events after vaccination. Surveillance is carried out by the vaccine manufacturer and also independently by the Irish Medicines Board. The IMB has stated that no new risks have been identified for Gardasil since the school vaccination programme started. Adverse reaction reports were, as expected, primarily local, mild and temporary reactions like having a sore arm or a temperature – and very like other normal short-lived vaccine reactions.

Gardasil is given routinely to girls in 1st year of second level school (approx 12 years) to make sure that protection from HPV is in place well before adulthood, or likely exposure to this common virus.

Three doses of the vaccine are needed over a 6 to 12 month period to give full protection. The vaccine protects against 7 out of 10 cervical cancers, so it is still important for girls to have regular smear tests when they are adults. Vaccination information for this programme will be shared with the National Cancer Screening Service, so that they can be linked to future cancer screening records.

Last updated on: 06 / 01 / 2012