Cllr Damien Blake, Letterkenny Town Council » Debate on Cervical Cancer Vaccine
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Councillor Damien Blake
Former Mayor of Letterkenny (2005 - 2006)
Member of Letterkenny Town Council

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Debate on Cervical Cancer Vaccine

November 13th, 2008

I’d like to credit Dr James McDaid for his stance taken during the debate in the Dail on the decision to roll back on the HPV vaccination.

I was shocked when I heard that the vacccination programme had been cancelled. It was one of the most pointless, and self-defeating decisions taken following the recent budget. The debate, and discussion in the press, has been somewhat disappointing as well.

Much has been made of the fact that between 70 and 90 women die from cervical cancer every year in Ireland, but I have yet to hear anyone talk about those women who suffer from cervical cancer, receive treatment and survive. Mary Harney talks about the cost of the vaccine, but surely the cost of treating Cervical Cancer would outstrip the small costs of the vaccine programme. In the purely-financial terms of the current situation, this is a decision that is both morally, and financially, bankrupt. It’s reprehensible to consider this as a purely financial issue, but even then it still makes no sense.

I’ve also been shocked by the tone of the debate on some fronts. Highland Radio hasn’t been too bad, but I’ve been told that callers to Ocean FM have focussed very heavily on the moral side of giving this vaccine to younger girls. That idea is based on both an outdated morality, and a severe misundertanding of how this vaccine works.

Firstly, the idea that this vaccine will lead to more young girls engaging in under-age sex is ludicrous. It’s based on the idea that one of the reasons that they aren’t currently is through a fear of Cervical Cancer and HPV, which is nonsense. Indeed, given the extremely poor state of sex education in Ireland, most young girls may well be unaware that HPV can be transmitted through sexual contact, and that it is connected in some cases to Cervical Cancer.

And secondly, there’s a reason this vaccine is recommended for girls aged 12 to 15; that’s the most effective time to give it, to ensure best results. This is not some conspiracy to encourage underage sex, and to claim so is a shocking display of ignorance.

The Government’s handling of this has been ridiculous; the introduction of the vaccine back in August was done ahead of the timeline envisioned by the HSE, and the current shambles shows a lack of clear thinking.

Update: I discussed this issue later today on Highland Radio. Click here for the audio

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5 Responses to “Debate on Cervical Cancer Vaccine”

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  1. Dan Sullivan Says:

    I’m afraid I would have to give Dr. McDaid only a half credit for his position. Voting against the government’s position was the only action that had an credibility, the idea that abstaining was some great sacrifice on his part is nonsense. Like Mary O’Rourke before him loyalty to the FF organisation will always win out.

  2. Cllr Damien Blake, Letterkenny Town Council » Shaun Doherty Show: Cervical Cancer Vaccination Says:

    [...] outlined my views in this earlier post. I didn’t contribute much to the show, as host Shaun Doherty was very effective in combatting [...]

  3. Neil Says:

    McDaid does deserve some credit for his position - refusing to side with your own Government (even through abstention rather than voting against them) takes a substantial amount of political courage.

    Of course, those of us supporting the other side of the house would rather have seen him cross the floor, but credit is due nonetheless ;-)

  4. Dan Sullivan Says:

    Neil, I did give him a half credit which counts as some credit, but I wouldn’t go as far as Damien has or it appears you have in lauding him for simply abstaining. Voting in the Oireachtas is about expressing an opinion and his opinion as recorded by vote is that he wasn’t opposed to the government’s measure just that he didn’t support it either. That is what a vote is for. Your vote is your voice.

  5. Sarah Says:

    I admire Jim mc daid so much for his speech and action on the matter. The fact that this vaccine is not being introduced is a sickening disgrace and may the blood of those girls that WILL suffer and die from the lack of vaccination be on the governments hands.

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