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Laura Brennan’s legacy in advocating for the HPV vaccine must be remembered as calls for urgent administering of the jab have been voiced.

Last month, the Brennan family of Ennis sent an open letter urging health officials to reinstate the vaccination scheme for teenagers. The family stressed that the importance of the HPV vaccine must not be forgotten during the global pandemic.

At the age of 26, Laura died from cervical cancer in March 2019. She spent her final few months campaigning and advocating for the HPV vaccine. She has been credited with saving thousands of lives through her endeavours. Laura was named as the 2019 Clare Person of the Year, an honour she received prior to her untimely passing.

An immediate plan to administer the vaccine to students is urgently required, Senator Martin Conway (FG) believed. He called for an action plan to be implemented by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (FF) and the HSE to catch up on the backlog of students waiting.

Senator Conway stated, “The HPV vaccines programme is in crisis with rates dropping from over 80pc in 2019 to 53pc in 2020. Without immediate action, we will be failing to deal with a preventable cancer. The vaccine programme can be managed in a very safe manner. We need a more creative approach to catch up by engaging with our local network of pharmacists and dental practices. The Irish Pharmacy Union have publicly stated they are willing to support the HPV Programme and this needs to be actioned”.

Conway who is Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on Health believed “through planning and using resources available” the HPV vaccine programme can work alongside the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As a Clare person, I am acutely aware of the legacy of Laura Brennan, who during her life did amazing work to raise awareness and arrest the trend of vaccine hesitancy. Just over two years ago, Laura passed away from cervical cancer aged just 26. In recent weeks, Laura’s family are bravely carrying on her work and have called for the HPV vaccine programme to be reinstated to the current public health agenda. I fully support this,” the Ennistymon man said.

He added, “We cannot afford to lose this momentum for the programme and ultimately, the HPV vaccine will save lives”.

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