The only Rose of Tralee contestant already selected for the festival in 2022 has claimed that she will not attend the event if she requires a vaccine.

Ohio Rose Christine Smyth said that she will opt out of next year's festival if a vaccine is required, stating that not enough is known about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Irish dancer told Radio Kerry that she will not put her health at risk by taking the vaccine so that she can attend the festival. 

“I’m reluctant just because there are so many unknowns currently right now, I know a lot of people who haven’t had any problems, but you hear the other side of the story as well and I feel like once it’s done, it can’t be undone," she told Radio Kerry. 

"So I think we just have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Health would be my priority. I wouldn’t want to put my own health at risk to partake in something that is so extremely special, but I wouldn’t choose that over my own personal health." 

The 23-year-old, who has roots in County Clare, said that the Rose of Tralee International Festival is "an essential part" of her life.

She has just opened the Smyth School of Dance in honor of her late father and admitted that her future aspirations are to be "an Irish dance teacher, wife, and mother. 

Smyth is the only Rose selected for next year's competition after the festival was canceled for the second year running due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Festival CEO Anthony O'Gara confirmed at the end of May that this year's festival had been canceled, claiming that it was "impossible" for the event to go ahead. 

Last year, the festival was canceled for the first time in its 60-year history due to the pandemic.

The Rose of Tralee International Festival is due to return in August 2022.