More than 814,000 people in the Republic have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, official data shows, after a daily record of 33,386 doses were administered on Thursday.
Some 341,000 people have had both doses of a vaccine.
HSE chief Paul Reid said the number of people falling ill and dying with Covid-19 has been “radically reduced” as the vaccine programme ramps up.
In a tweet posted on Saturday morning, he also said a further 3,000 people over the age of 70 will start the vaccination process today, while the portal for registering to get the jab has now been widened to include people who are aged 67.
The update comes after a double setback to the vaccine rollout earlier this week – health experts recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine only be given to people over 60, and delays to the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine over safety concerns were announced.
This was tempered on Wednesday by news that around 550,000 extra doses of the Pfizer jab are to be delivered up to the end of June.
In the North, more than 850,000 people had received their first jab by April 16th, while over 250,000 are fully vaccinated.
Vaccinations have been extended to people aged 40 to 44 in Northern Ireland.
This means about 21.6 per cent of the Republic's adult population (aged 18 and over) has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, compared to 58.5 per cent in the North.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health confirmed it is examining proposals to vaccinate people aged under 30 earlier in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus ahead of the wider reopening of society.
The Irish Times reports that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has asked officials to examine the possibility of revising the order of age cohorts scheduled to receive the vaccine so that younger people in the 18-30 age group would get their shots before those aged 30-50, once those in their 60s are vaccinated.
Some senior officials fear a spike in cases among younger people once society begins to reopen, as under-30s are more likely than other age groups to socialise together in large numbers.
“I’ve asked the department to assess the case for vaccinating younger cohorts earlier, on the basis of reducing overall transmission as quickly as possible,” Mr Donnelly told The Irish Times.
We've now administered almost 1.2M #CovidVaccine with 22% of the eligible population having had a 1st dose. The real measures of sickness, hospitalisations, ICU & mortality all radically reduced. Next week we commence those aged 65-69 @HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) April 17, 2021
On Friday, more than 50,000 people registered for Covid vaccination through the HSE's online portal.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin tweeted: “Hugely encouraging to see so many people now so close to their vaccine first dose.”
The health service has said it will take three weeks to give the first doses to people aged 65-69 and a further three weeks for the 60-64 age group.
Those in the 60-69 age group are being offered the AstraZeneca jab and do not have a choice of which vaccine they receive.