Ireland is in an 'unfortunate position' when it comes to supply of a vaccine against monkeypox.
That's according to Professor Fiona Lyons, national clinical lead for sexual health services with the HSE.
She was speaking as more people are to receive a vaccine against monkeypox, after the health service announced it was widening the process.
It said some people who are at high risk of contracting monkeypox will be offered a vaccine against the disease "in the next few weeks".
This is in line with the most recent National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advice - which is to vaccinate people at risk before they are exposed to the virus.
The HSE estimates around 6,000 people may be at heightened risk of infection.
However current supplies mean only around 10% of these people will be vaccinated in the first phase of the rollout.
The HSE said it has developed a process of prioritising people for vaccination.
But it added that supplies of vaccine in Ireland and the EU "are low and limited" at this time.
Prof Lyons told Newstalk Breakfast: "We're in an unfortunate position - a position that Ireland, the HSE, Department of Health, clinicians, nurses, doctors - nobody wants to be a position where we have very limited supply of vaccine.
"But that is where we are.
"So over the next number of weeks, the plan is to identify individuals who we believe will be part of the group who would benefit from the vaccine - and offer them vaccination over the next couple of weeks".
How it will work
This vaccine plan would see those people receive two doses, 28 days apart.
But Prof Lyons says supplies should pick up later this year and into next year.
"I have been given every assurance that there's going to be vaccine available at the very end of this year [and] into next year.
"So I would be very optimistic that that would be the case".
She says the HSE will prioritise those who have had a notification for early infectious syphilis over a period of time.
"We know that early infectious syphilis in Ireland disproportionately affects gay and bisexual and Men who have Sex with Men.
"We also know that most of the individuals who are treated for syphilis presented to sexual health services and are treated in sexual health services.
"So that means that we can more readily contact them, and they can be vaccinated".
To date, the HSE has been offering a vaccine to those who are close contacts of cases of monkeypox following assessment by public health.
These people have been contacted and invited for vaccination.
Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and can affect anyone - regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.
However the biggest risk of spread between people is through close physical contact - including sexual contact and close contact with household members.