The immunisation programme in Ireland is based on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). The committee's recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practice in relation to immunisation. It makes recommendations on vaccination policy to my Department. NIAC continues to revise recommendations to allow for the introduction of new vaccines in Ireland and to keep abreast of changes in the patterns of disease. Therefore, the immunisation schedule will continue to be amended over time.
In 2009 the NIAC recommended HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination for all 12-13 year old girls to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer when they are adults. In September 2010 the HPV vaccination programme was introduced for all girls in first year of secondary school. Gardasil is the vaccine used by the HSE in the School Immunisation Programme and is provided free of charge to girls in secondary school.
During the 2019/20 school year, girls who previously declined the HPV vaccine and are still attending secondary school can join the HPV girls only programme. By contacting your local HSE Health Office appointments will be offered to girls to receive the HPV vaccine in HSE mop up clinics. However, it must be noted that vaccinated girls may still be at risk from other high risk types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer and will therefore need to continue to have regular cervical smear tests.