Minister Simon Harris announces the Laura Brennan Advocacy Medal, to be awarded annually by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

In honour of Laura Brennan

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s ‘Laura Brennan Advocacy Medal’ in honour of the tireless work of Laura Brennan to raise awareness of the HPV vaccine was announced today at the launch of the Vaccine Alliance.

The successful campaign to increase uptake rates of the HPV vaccine, which had fallen dramatically up to 2018, was largely due to Laura’s work and her legacy continues as we’ve seen with the significant increase in uptake to 70%.

President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Professor Mary Horgan, said that it is a very proud and poignant day for the College.


Over the past few years, we have seen the powerful impact of the patient voice as an advocate. We were privileged to know and to work with Laura Brennan, to help her to communicate her message and to present her with the College’s inaugural patient advocacy medal in August last year.

Professor Mary Horgan

President, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Prof Mary Horgan with Laura Brennan

The patient voice is the strongest we have

"The Laura Brennan Advocacy Medal will honour the selfless approach and work of Laura. She never gave up, and dedicated her days to helping others through her advocacy. Now, we graciously dedicate the College’s advocacy medal, the first in the College’s 350-year history, to Laura.

"The patient voice is the strongest and most important voice we have in working to improve our health services. It is essential that we, as doctors listen to patients. This is how we learn and is key to ensuring we provide the best care and outcomes possible. We know how important our communication is and how valuable every contact we have with our patients is," Prof Horgan said.

"I want to commend Minister Harris for his commitment to vaccines with the establishment of the Vaccine Alliance and the College will continue to collaborate and support our colleagues to promote vaccines. The importance of political will in this area has been proven and it is a major step for health prevention in Ireland and for our children’s futures," Prof Horgan said.

The Laura Brennan Advocacy Medal will commence in 2020 and will be awarded annually.  It is a very special addition to the historical awards given by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland every year in recognition of excellence and achievements in medicine and now in recognition of patient and public advocacy for the health of the population.

Prof Mary Horgan

Laura’s mother Bernie Brennan spoke on behalf of the Brennan family

“We are truly honoured and overwhelmed by the The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s announcement of the Laura Brennan Advocacy Medal. Little did we know two years ago when Laura first contacted the HSE, the impact her voice would have on so many people’s lives. In particular, it came as a surprise to all of us and especially Laura how openly she was embraced by the medical community here in Ireland and across the world.”

“The genuine respect shown for Laura’s story and her voice, and the openness to working with her to help achieve better health outcomes for all can only encourage more patient advocates to come forward and work in partnership with the medical profession. We would like to thank the College for initiating this acknowledgement and thank Minister Harris for being a strong advocate for the HPV vaccine and for his support."

Yvonne McCahill

Press Officer, Communications Department

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