Laura Brennan, a HPV vaccination advocate was awarded an honorary degree in UCD yesterday for her work in campaigning for young women to receive the vaccine. 

Brennan, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016, has encouraged parents, through her campaign, to vaccinate their children against cervical cancer. 

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Prof Donal Brennan of the School of Gynaecological Oncology said “when Laura began this work, there was a significant crisis in public confidence for the HPV vaccination where the rates had fallen below 50%.”

UCD President Prof Andrew Deeks presented the degree to Brennan in a ceremony yesterday on the Belfield campus. Brennan told RTE News that she “was really really humbled to receive the honour from UCD.” 

According to the Health Service Executive (HSE) website “the World Health Organisation (WHO), has invited Laura to extend her advocacy of the vaccine across Europe, and she has visited the WHO’s European headquarters in Copenhagen to discuss her advocacy of the vaccine.”

Brennan spoke on The Late Late Show in April of 2018, about sharing her story of being diagnosed with cervical cancer with the HSE. She told them “look if there is any way my story will stop this from happening to any other girl, then I want to be 100% behind it.” 

“That’s why I got behind the campaign, because I don’t want any mother, father, sister, brother, friends or family to loose someone from such a horrible illness, which is cervical cancer. Which thanks to the screening programme and the HPV vaccine is now preventable practically.”

Brennan joins the likes of Father Tony Coote, former chaplain of UCD, who was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the College of Science on 10th December 2018. Father Coote was awarded the honorary doctorate for his work to raise funds for motor neurone research, having helped raised €550,000 and completed a 550km pilgrimage around Ireland.