HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan passes away

HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan passes away

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“Since Laura contacted the HSE in 2017, uptake of the HPV vaccine has increased almost 20 percentage points, from 51% in 2017 to 70% today. In March 2019, over 22,000 girls got the HPV vaccine to protect them from cervical cancer.”

Health Service Executive (HSE)

The late Laura Brennan who was honoured by UCD last year – Photo: Fennell Photography

The death has taken place of HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan.

In recent months, 26-year-old Laura had been the face of both HSE and World Health Organisation campaigns promoting the importance of young girls availing of the HPV vaccine which wasn’t available to Laura however when she attended school.

After her doctor informed her that her cancer was terminal, Laura contacted the HSE to offer her personal story in an effort to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated against cervical cancer.

Laura has also spoken widely on radio and television about her diagnosis and is credited with helping to restore public confidence in the efficacy and safety of the HPV vaccination in Ireland.

The HPV vaccine is available free of charge from the HSE for all girls in 1st year of second level school. The vaccine is given through a school based programme, to ensure high vaccine uptake. However, in specific instances some girls will be invited to special HSE clinics for their vaccines.

The Ennis woman was only recently named Clare Person of the Year 2019 by the Clare Association in Dublin.

Last year, Laura was conferred with an honorary Degree of Doctor of Literature by University College Dublin.

Laura also appeared on the Late Late Show on RTÉ last year.

A statement from the Brennan family confirmed the sad news this evening.

“Laura was a light in the life of everyone who knew her; a wonderful daughter, sister and friend. We are lost without her.  We are all incredibly proud of the work she did in the last 18 months to help protect other young women like herself from the cancer that has taken her life today. 

Laura used her voice, her generosity and her energy to help parents to make informed choices and protect their daughters from cervical cancer. She wanted to make a difference, and use the time that she had to right what she felt was a great wrong.’

 ‘As we say goodbye to Laura, we would ask that our privacy be respected to allow us time to adjust and grieve for her,’ the statement said.

The Chief Executive of the Irish Cancer Society, Averil Power said: “On behalf of everyone at the Irish Cancer Society, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Brennan family on the sad passing of their daughter and sister, Laura.

“In the past year Laura showed tremendous strength and bravery in talking about her cervical cancer. Her selfless honesty inspired us all. Through her steadfast determination she influenced parents to make an informed decision to give their daughters the HPV vaccine and protect them against an illness which was to take her life.

“Laura’s legacy is already clear. In many homes across the country, parents will have her to thank for saving their daughters’ lives.

Through vaccination and the best possible screening programme for women, Ireland can potentially eliminate cervical cancer within a generation. In memory of Laura and her tireless work, we must work towards this goal with more determination than ever.”

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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