Simon Harris: Anti-vaxxers need to "cop on," says Health Minister

The Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris made a strong statement this week condemning anti-vaxxers and saying that they need to be called out. His comments came as the country mourned heroic HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan, who died this week.

After being diagnosed with cervical cancer, Brennan became an advocate for the HPV vaccine and since she started her campaign, the uptake rate has risen for 51% to 70%. 

Read more20 Irish women so far dead due to cervical cancer screening errors

Tributes paid to HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan, who has died aged 26 |

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 21, 2019

According to, Minister Harris, however, claimed that there was still damage being done by anti-vaccination groups, stating that mistruths they spread must be called out. 

“We really need to call on the anti-vaxxers to cop on; we need to call them out,” he said.

The Minister was also critical of his fellow TDs (members of the Irish parliament) who he claims are as much to blame for spreading misinformation about vaccinations. 

“They continue to send representations to me questioning the benefits of vaccinations about constituent X and Y," Harris claimed. 

Speaking about Laura Brennan @SimonHarrisTD said:
‘We often use words like amazing to describe someone, perhaps we overuse them, & when you actually use it in relation to Laura- it doesn't do her justice. She was the most amazing person who you could possibly meet’ #ThankYouLaura

— Emma Jane Hade (@emmajhade) March 22, 2019

“Yes, we need to supply parents with all of the information. Yes, we need to help parents make informed decisions.

"But if you want medical advice you should get it from a doctor or healthcare professional; not from a member of Dáil Éireann propagating nonsense.

“We have seen far too much of TDs coming into Dáil Éireann and standing on the floor of the Dáil criticising the HPV vaccine.

“Some of the people in the Dáil most vocal around the time of the CervicalCheck audit were the same people who actually spoke out against a vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer," he added. 

Read more: Irish leader “all talk and no action” over cervical cancer scandal victim says

Simon Harris says suggestions by a Catholic bishop that vaccinating 12-year-old girls against HPV could lead to promiscuity are ignorant.

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) September 29, 2017

“That is complete and utter hypocrisy; it's rank hypocrisy; it's dangerous and going to cost lives.

"We need to be really, really concerned about what is going on here. We have a measles outbreak in our country; we have a mumps outbreak in part of our country.

“Yes, the HPV vaccine rate is increasing but we really need to get it a hell of a lot higher if we want to eradicate cervical cancer within a generation.”

What do you make of Minister Harris' comments? Let us know in the comments section, below. 

Read more: Bishop slams availability of contraception in Ireland ahead of Pope’s visit