An Irish private healthcare company has said that it has been offered 40,000 doses of the BCG vaccine from the Canadian medical supply company, Intervax.

Carysfort Healthcare said that the delivery can be made in the next two to three weeks, but the offer will expire on 25 August due to shortages of the vaccine in other countries.

Carysfort Healthcare is Intervax's distributor in Ireland and says that InterVax is the second largest supplier of BCG vaccine in the world.

According to Carysfort's Managing Director Fintan Smith, the BCG offered is prequalified and approved by the World Health Organisation.

He said that InverVax has been supplying the BCG vaccine to over 140 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, and to UN Agencies including UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization, for over 30 years.

Mr Smith has been in contact with the Health Products Regulatory Authority in connection with the offer and whether it will allow the medicine to be used as an emergency in Ireland as it is not licensed here.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority has said it is "proactively following up" the issue.

In a statement, it said the vaccine is currently not authorised for use in Ireland and additional information is needed before a decision is made about its use in Ireland.

No urgency over TB immunisation - GP

Earlier, a Cork GP has said that there is no urgency about getting immunised against TB following reports yesterday that a vaccine will not be available again in Ireland until later this year or early next year.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr John Sheehan said babies can be vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available again.

He said there is no immediate concern for the health of babies, but he said there is a concern for public health in the long run.

Dr Sheehan said there is no urgency in getting the vaccine.

He said: "It was given in the neonatal period, because there was much more of a captive audience...and you get babies while they are in hospital. But there is no reason this couldn't be given when the vaccine becomes available."