A CAMPAIGNER who tried to raise concerns about the cervical cancer vaccine was prohibited from posting information to a major petition calling for its reintroduction.
A press officer with the Labour Party had set up an online Facebook group, which helped organise candlelit vigils to force the government to reinstate the programme, which would have cost €9.7m annually.
However, when campaigner Mairead Hilliard tried to draw attention to adverse health reports following use of the Gardasil vaccine, her comments were removed. A Labour councillor also wrote to her accusing her of sending "misinformed" material about the vaccine concerns to politicians
Wexford Councillor Joe Ryan sent her an email saying: "It is an outrageous insult to suggest that a parent who wants to protect their child plays roulette of whatever type.
"It is precisely to take the risk out of my daughter's [lives] that I want them to receive a vaccination, which would not have been offered to parents in 2008 unless it had been approved beforehand by the HSE and the Irish Medicines Board. Please refrain from sending me any further misinformed and unrequested junk spam."
Hilliard, who is a spokeswoman for the Irish Vaccine Informed Parents group, also tried to alert parents to possible risks on an online petition organised by a Labour Party press officer. However, her comments were removed, with the organiser of the group Shauneen Armstrong saying: "Mairead, you've been told again and again about posting on the group. Not to mention your post being misleading and not containing the full facts. I have suggested that you set up your own group on this where you are free to post what you like."
Armstrong said: "The group is a campaigning tool for people who are specifically campaigning for the vaccine to be introduced. She is repeatedly going off-topic on the group and it is not a forum for that. It is not a debating group; it is for people who are actively involved in the campaign for this. This is something that I have done on my own and not in my capacity as a Labour Party press officer."
Hilliard said: "It was mentioned only once in the Dáil by Rory O'Hanlon that there is the possibility of side-effects with Gardasil, but nobody is interested in hearing this. No vaccine is suitable for absolutely everybody and I would urge parents to familiarise themselves with all of the risks. It should be mandatory for parents to be given a copy of the manufacturer's leaflet to read for any vaccine that the HSE is promoting so that they can make an informed choice. Children with allergies and where there is a strong family medical history of auto-immune disease are more likely to be damaged by vaccines."