The Health Service Executive has started its campaign to vaccinate over 30,000 teenage girls against the Human Papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer.

The vaccine Gardasil is being offered free and will be administered in three doses, around two-three months apart, by HSE immunisation teams in schools.

Around 21 schools will be visited this month and the remainder will be offered the vaccination programme in September.

The vaccine is being provided to first year secondary school girls and girls in sixth class, going into first year in secondary school this September.

Schoolgirls who receive the vaccine this month will have to have their second injection in July, either at a HSE clinic or at their school.

Parents and schools are being issued with information packs containing consent forms and other information about the programme, which is also explained on the HSE's website.

The HSE is hoping for an uptake of over 80%.

Each year, around 250 women develop cervical cancer and 80 die from the disease.