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Why #ThankYouLaura Is Trending In Ireland

26-year-old Laura Brennan was determined that every parent in Ireland who was about to make the decision whether their daughter was to be vaccinated against HPV, would hear her story first.

The documentary charting the final chapter in the life of Laura Brennan moved viewers to tears and prompted a mass outpouring of gratitude from viewers on social media.

Laura Brennan: This is Me first aired on the RTÉ Player earlier this year but was broadcast again on RTÉ One on Monday night.

Laura had been diagnosed with end-stage cervical cancer and passed away on March 20 this year at the age of 26, but not before dedicating much of her time to highlighting the importance of the HPV vaccine in saving lives.

The Clare woman had been diagnosed with Stage 2B cancer in early December 2016 was hugely responsible in the uptake of the previously disregarded HPV vaccine which is, as of this year, administered to all first-year students in secondary school, including for the first time, young boys.

HPV is a virus that can cause cervical cancer and other cancers in both women and men.

The HPV vaccine will protect young people from HPV related cancers as they age.

The uptake of the HPV vaccine has a participation rate of approximately 70%, an increase of 20% points since 2017. This, according to the HSE, is in no small part due to the tireless work of HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan.

Laura’s family are continuing her work following her death some six months ago and were in attendance at the launch of the HPV vaccine announcement.

“Laura poured herself into this campaign, knowing every time she told her story; it had the potential to save a life," her brother, Kevin Brennan said.

"The increase in the uptake rates of the HPV vaccine in last year’s first-year girls is bittersweet for us – we’re delighted that Laura has played a part in helping to protect so many more young people from HPV cancers.

"And the introduction of the boys to the vaccination programme is very welcome news too. But we’re all very aware of Laura’s absence today and how much she would have loved to share this occasion.

"As Laura would say, Get the Facts, Get the Vaccine. Protect Our Future.”

With high uptake of the HPV vaccine, there is the potential to save 112 lives each year by preventing the most common strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer and other cancers.

This September, Ireland joined over 20 other countries including the UK in giving HPV vaccine to boys and girls in 1st year of secondary school.

Director of the National Immunisation Office, Dr Lucy Jessop also confirmed that over 60,000 information packs were delivered across the country this week in advance of the HSE Vaccination Teams starting their scheduled post-primary school visits in September where all first-year students will get the first of two doses of the vaccine.

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