29/09/2009

NI HPV Precautions Defended

Within hours of the tragic death of a schoolgirl in England who had just been vaccinated, NI's top doctor has insisted that parents need have no fears.

However, the Chief Medical Officer admitted that some stocks of the vaccine concerned - which fights the HPV virus, (pictured) - and being used by Trusts here, have been quarantined.

The 14-year old took ill in school after receiving the HPV vaccine and later died.

No link can be made between the death and the vaccine until all the facts are known and a post-mortem takes place.

Dr Michael McBride said: "I would urge parents and children not to panic.

"The removal of this particular batch of the vaccine is purely a precautionary measure while the tragic death in England is being fully investigated.

"Some stocks of the same batch of the Cervarix vaccine were issued to Trust pharmacies in Northern Ireland and we have requested Trusts to quarantine this batch," he explained.

"School nurses and GPs have been informed not to use this particular batch until the results of testing are known.

"It is important that we have the results of further investigations as soon as possible to establish the cause of this sad death.
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"The HPV programme will continue by using stocks from different batches," he continued, but admitted that it is "a worrying time for parents and their children".

"I would urge everyone to listen to the advice of their GPs and school nurses."

Meanwhile, Liz Atkinson, Head of Care Services at the Ulster Cancer Foundation has also urged there be 'no panic'.

She said that, while "our deepest sympathies are with the family who are dealing with the tragic loss of their young daughter, we would urge people not to panic".

"The cause of death has not yet been confirmed," she continued.

"Anyone who is concerned about the vaccination should discuss their worries with their GP or school nurse.

"The reality is that 78 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Northern Ireland each year and this vaccination programme aims to safeguard women from cervical cancer.

"It could potentially save the lives of 30 local women every year," she said.

"By introducing the vaccination programme to girls before they become sexually active, the vaccine protects against the main strains of HPV, thereby significantly reducing the risk of developing cervical cancer later in life."

See: Teen Dies After HPV Cancer Vaccination

(BMcC/KMcA)

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