By MARTIN WALL
Cervical cancer vaccine proceeds
Up to 30,000 girls in first year at secondary school are to be offered the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer by this summer.
In 2008, the Government said it was not in a position to introduce the vaccine on cost grounds. However, Minister for Health Mary Harney said this afternoon that following talks with pharmaceutical companies the price for the vaccine has been “quashed”.
She said originally the cost of introducing the HPV vaccine scheme was estimated at €16 million but the new price was €3 million.
“The vaccine will be offered free of charge this year for approximately 30,000 girls who are now in first year of secondary school,” Ms Harney said. “This is the same group of girls who would have received the vaccine under the previous plan for 2009.”
The minister also announced plans to establish a national colorectal screening service.
She said that detailed preparations would commence immediately and screening would be introduced from 2012.
Research published last year by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) found that the vaccination scheme was the most cost-effective strategy option in the Irish healthcare setting regarding the prevention of HPV types 16 and 18, which account for 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.