The Health Service Executive has said there has been strong uptake of the HPV cervical cancer vaccine, with over 44,000 girls receiving the vaccine in the 2011-2012 programme.

The routine programme for first year girls had an uptake rate of 86% for the three vaccine doses.

This exceeded the HSE target uptake of 80%.

A catch-up programme was also introduced in 2011-2012 for all sixth year girls and the completed course uptake rate there was 72%.

The free vaccination programme involves the administration of three doses of the HPV vaccine Gardasil, at zero, two and six months.

Most of the vaccinations were administered in schools by HSE immunisation teams, while some girls were invited to HSE clinics for the vaccine.

The 2013/14 programme will again routinely provide vaccination for all first year girls.

This is the final year of the catch-up programme for sixth year students who have not already had the HPV vaccine.