Concerns that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine programme against cervical cancer for teenage girls would be rejected due to claims it encouraged promiscuity have been proved wrong in Northern Ireland.
Nearly 90% of 12 and 13-year-old girls were vaccinated since the programme began 12 months ago, but not all Year 9 girls received the full three-dose course, as 89% had the first vaccine, 85% had the second and only 83% went on to have the third.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey spoke about the results while visiting Bloomfield Collegiate School in Belfast.
He said: "Cervical cancer is a disease which kills around 40 women a year in Northern Ireland. For this reason, the vaccination programme is very important."
"I welcome the fact that the Northern Ireland uptake for the vaccination is extremely high, which means 12 and 13-year-old girls and their parents realise the importance of this vaccination in the fight against cervical cancer."
The 2009 school vaccination programme has already begun, and Mr McGimpsey added: "This vaccination is about saving lives and preventing the suffering and distress caused by cancer. I would ask all parents to continue to support the vaccination programme and to give consent for their daughters to have the vaccine this year."
Copyright © Press Association 2009