Robust global studies demonstrate that the benefits of the HPV anti-cervical cancer vaccine outweigh risks to teenage girls, a leading consultant has insisted.
Dr Jack Lambert, consultant of infectious diseases at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, says scientific research from countries including Canada and Australia strongly supports the use of the vaccine to reduce the risk of cervical cancer and genital warts among women.
He dismisses claims that the vaccine is the root cause of sudden and acute ill health among a group of Irish school girls - mostly aged 11-17 years.
The girls claim to be suffering from chronic fatigue, seizures, constant pain and other side effects since receiving the vaccine at school.
"You've to balance the benefits of the vaccine with the risks at present. Based on my review of the literature, the data strongly supports continuing use of the HPV vaccine," he said. "There is not convincing evidence that all of the symptoms can be attributed to the HPV vaccine."
However, he says the HSE needs to be "cautious and conservative" about the claims.
"We must continue to take serious these claims but we shouldn't actually withdraw the vaccine unless there is convincing evidence and I don't think there is convincing evidence right now."
Cervical cancer can be lethal, killing up to 100 women each year in Ireland.
The HSE defends the vaccine, recommended by the World Health Organisation, and stresses that it will protect girls from developing cervical cancer when they are adults.