The roll-out of the HPV vaccine to schoolboys is due to get underway in September of this year, however, it has emerged that this may not be possible due to staffing shortages.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) and Fórsa have said today that there is an issue in relation to adequate staff to provide the vaccine.
Currently, the (Human papillomavirus) HPV vaccine is offered to girls in first year of secondary school.
From the beginning of the new academic year, the vaccine is to be offered to first-year boys as well.
The INMO, the IMO, and Fórsa have said that they are fully committed to the rollout of the vaccine to boys.
"There is currently a recruitment pause, as well as an acute staffing shortage, while in the meantime this rollout represents additional workload," they said in a joint statement.
The matter was discussed at a conciliation hearing at the Workplace Relations Commission last Tuesday after which the HSE asked for an opportunity to reflect.
The groups are due to meet again within three weeks.
"We consider that within this procedure, the HSE must concentrate on bringing forward realistic proposals to ensure the programmes can roll out," the statement said.
Dr Ann Hogan, Chair of the IMO Public Health and Community Health Committee, said there is a concern that the resources allocated for extending the vaccine to boys will not be sufficient for a successful rollout.
Fórsa said that they hope the HSE "grasp the opportunity now to put the necessary staffing in place, across all disciplines, to properly deliver a much welcome enhancement of public health provision".
According to the INMO's general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, the HSE had committed to a national agreement to appoint 160 public health nurses this year.
She said that these roles would be central to the vaccine extension.
"They are now reducing this number to 98 sponsored positions, despite having received 284 applications," said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.
"This vaccine extension certainly can roll out, but it requires additional staffing, rather than reductions in the workforce."