Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is to be accelerated, health minister Stephen Donnelly has announced.
From tomorrow, all of those aged 16 and older who are eligible to receive a booster vaccine can access this service through HSE vaccination centres.
GPs and community pharmacies will also be providing this service on an appointment basis.
Mr Donnelly said: “In order to maintain momentum and build on the additional capacity put in place by the HSE over the last month within our vaccination centres and in primary care, I am delighted to announce that booster vaccination will now be available for all remaining age groups earlier than scheduled, beginning from Sunday next.
“The logistics of this undertaking are not to be underestimated.”
He added: “As incidence of disease continues to rise, it is vital that anyone eligible for a primary or booster dose vaccine receives that vaccine as soon as possible.”
Today a further 23,281 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were notified in Ireland.
Yesterday chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said the current situation would be much worse if it had not been for the vaccination programme.
“This isn’t like last year because of vaccination,” he said. “If we had these case numbers and we didn’t have vaccination, which was the situation we were in this time last year, we would have had very significant numbers of hospitalisations, we would have very significant numbers of potential deaths.
“It is an enormous difference from last year, even though we are dealing with much bigger case numbers.
“The first three days of this week we have seen hospitalisations exceeding 100 per day.” He added: “The basic message is that the measures that people can take to protect themselves are really important now because there is so much of this infection out there.
“It is too early for us to conclude that we understand what the pattern of hospitalisations is going to be.
“That is why our message about people restricting their movements and cutting down their social contacts are so important to help us.”
The Government changed its self-isolation and Covid-19 testing advice for the fourth time this week.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said testing advice has been changed from seeking a PCR test with symptoms to using antigen testing at home.
Those who test positive with an antigen test should seek a PCR test to confirm the result.
Self-isolating advice for those who test positive for Covid-19 has also changed.
Those aged 12 and over, who have had their booster vaccine jabs for at least seven days, should self-isolate for seven days instead of the previous advice of 10 days.