Tuesday, November 04, 2008

HPV vaccination programme 'put on hold'

I CAN'T believe it though in fairness why it surprises me I don't know but Health Minister Harney has put on the back burner a programme to vaccinate 12 year olds in the recently announced HPV vaccination programme. Read more on the Irish Times website.

So why doesn't this surprise me, well given the delays and hassles surrounding the rolling out of Breastcheck, a national breast screening programme, why on earth would this Government make a vaccination a priority that could prevent one of our children getting cervical cancer in the future.

This was only announced last August and it only took until the beginning of November for it to be scrapped, let's face it who has any faith in this Government's phrase of putting it on hold.

At the time I was annoyed that at 16 the Young Wan wouldn't get a look in, in fact neither were 13 to 15 year olds as the Government decided that it was too expensive to include a catch-up programme. And yes I know that a small majority of kids are sexually active at that age, but come on, this could save lives.

So from my initial thoughts which were great once again my family doesn't matter and now it seems that the young girls who were almost lucky enough to be included in this programme, now won't be. So it is just as well plans for the national cervical cancer screening programme are underway, unless of course this ends up being like the national breast cancer screening programme.

Shame on you Harney, this was about saving lives, now it is about saving money.


Declan said...

Mary Harney is like a general in World War I. She has been Minister for Health for so long now that deaths are just statistics at this stage. If we knew she could make a break through and end the "war" of reform by Christmas that would be something but it's a war of attrition at the moment and we seem to be loosing.

Anonymous said...

Viral infections caused by sexual promiscuity (you are more likely to be infected, the more partners you have) can be prevented by wearing condoms etc. Maybe Mary Harney is taking a leaf out of Sarah Palin's book and has decided that if the 12 years olds just don't have sex or use condoms, then they will proctect themselves. :-) Of course it is highly desirable that the vaccine should be available, but in an era where are public finances are in a total mess, is it any surprise that this has been put on the back burner? The 12 year olds are too young to march on the Dail or gather for a rally in St. Andrew's church. Their voices will not be heard. The could use their confirmation money to pay for the vaccine maybe. (tongue in cheek).

Emma in Canada said...

The HPV vaccine is currently a huge issue here in Alberta. It is being offered in the schools in Grade 5 (age 10) but 10 of the 20 Catholic school boards have decided not to offer it as the catholic bishops have spoken out against it. This is only in Alberta, in every other province the church has stayed out of it and it is being offered across the country. Next year, it will be available to Grade 9 (14) girls. Taylor will be in Grade 9 then so I am glad my school board is one of those who has decided to go with it.

Even though it won't be available in some schools it is still available for free. I think the big concern is that the girls who are most at risk, are the ones whose parents will not make that effort to go to the doctor or a health clinic.

Sorry about the length, it is an issue I have become very passionate about and I probably should have saved it for the blog post it is intended to become!

Red Mum said...

@Declan this was a rush job, as the FOI stuff on RTE attest to. I question a lot about it especially the timing of this announcement, despite Harney saying it had nothing to do with it on the radio this morning, BS. It was announced late in the evening when we were watching the American election. Why not wait until the morning?

@Laura I agree, except for the multiple partners bit. While true in itself, you can be exposed as a virginal bride by your husband on your wedding night. It only takes one partner. (I think it is the promiscuous word that annoys me there, one partner or 100 I don't care.)

@Emma rant away, we have had some of that moral (anti-moral in my books) argument here too. A mother was on the radio the other day giving out about the vaccine and I really don't understand that. This can prevent cancer!!!

This has nothing to do with the number of sexual partners, it has to do with being exposed to the HPV virus.

Anonymous said...

The number of sexual partners is relevant to my mind. Whilst a virginal bride on her wedding night can catch the pampilona virus, it's fair to say that the more sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to catch some sort of sexually transmitted infection. Cervical cancer can also be detected/caught early/cured through regular smear tests. This vaccine is being offered to children of 12 years of age who may not be sexually active for another ten years. Meanwhile, people already sexually active are not being offered smear testing which would catch abnormalities in the cervix and allow them to be treated. Vaccinating 12 year olds protects 12 year olds, but what protection is there for everyone else? What is being done for sexually active 16 year olds for example? I think there is a stronger argument for regular cervical smear testing for all sexually active women. This issue is being ignored. It's discriminatory to only protect those who are not yet sexually active. The ideal situation is vaccination and regular cervical smear testing. Unless you take a blanket approach, you are going to miss a lot of cancers.

Red Mum said...

@laura I dont disagree with your comments but am just incredibly uncomfortable with the promiscuity tag, I don't like it, the feminist in me baulks at it.

It almost says to me that if you have had multiple sexual partners and get HPV of what do you expect, you with your loose morals. I am not saying that you are claiming this, this is just how I feel when it is mentioned.

I also know of two women who contracted an STD with their first sexual partner, hence the virginal bride analogy, both were in long term relationships.

The whole idea about being offered it at 12 is to do it before becoming sexually active. There were calls for a catch up programme to be offered to 13 to 15 year olds also, which I would whole heartedly endorse but of course wasn't included by the Minister.

As you say it should be vaccine and screening. I don't believe the vaccine should be instead of but in conjunction with screening. As you say that is vital to stop women contracting cervical cancer.

Oh yeah and I want my daughter to be offered it.

Red Mum said...

I meant to also say condoms do not completely protect against HPV. So the only way to definitely not get it is to not have any intimate relations including sex. I don't hold this to be a viable option for most people.

Anonymous said...

Red Mum, I agree with you completely that the vaccine should be available. What irks me about this whole issue is the gap in treatment. I think that your daughter is 16? As a sixteen year old, she has no hope of getting the vaccine unless she is vaccinated privately, (because she is not 12), neither is she eligible for the cervical smear programme, cervical check. It is only available for women aged 25-60. Suppose a 16 year old (I'll ignore for the moment the under 16 age group) has sex and catches the virus, she has not been vaccinated and it will be nine years before being called for a cervical smear. That nine years is an awfully long time for no screening. I think that nine year gap is at least as important an issue as the vaccine and I don't think it's getting much attention. :-) Taking a very simplistic view, excluding the 16 to 24 year old age group, is also about saving money instead of saving lives.

niall_leahySJ said...

Why is promiscuity amongst girls deemed as shameful but it's lauded amongst guys? Do women perceive guys as more attractive if they sleep around a lot???