Laura Brennan, an advocate for HPV vaccination has died in University Hospital Limerick, at the age of 26 from cervical cancer. In a statement released by the HSE, Brennan’s family said “We are all incredibly proud of the work she did in the last 18 months to help protect other young women like herself from the cancer that has taken her life today.

“Laura used her voice, her generosity and her energy to help parents to make informed choices and protect their daughters from cervical cancer.”

Brennan was awarded an honorary degree from UCD, last December, for her work in campaigning for young women to receive the vaccine. Brennan told RTE News at the time of her award that she “was really really humbled to receive the honour from UCD.” 

Since her diagnosis in 2016, Brennan had spoken publicly on urging parents to vaccinate their children against cervical cancer. She was also invited to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s European headquarters in Copenhagen to discuss her advocacy of the vaccine.”

Speaking on the The Late Late Show in April 2018, Brennan spoke about she wished her story would prevent “this from happening to any other girl.”

According to the Irish Times, since September 2017, when Brennan first approached the HSE to advocate for the vaccine, uptake has since recovered from a low of 52 per cent, to 70 per cent now.

Father Tony Coote, a former chaplain of UCD, is another recipient of an honorary degree. Fr Coote was conferred with an honorary doctorate in December 2018, for his work to raise funds for motor neurone research, having helped raised €550,000 and completed a 550km pilgrimage around Ireland.