The director general of the HSE Paul Reid has said that the most difficult thing he has ever had to do through work was to contact the families of healthcare workers who died from Covid-19.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast Mr Reid said he was a strong advocate for the booster vaccine for healthcare workers, but that ultimately National Immunisation Advistory Committee (Niac) were the experts, and he had to be guided by their advice.
Mr Reid said there had been an uptake of people registering for the vaccine in recent days from 800 to 2,500 per day and the HSE would continue numerous initiatives to increase that uptake.
There had been a slight reduction in the numbers being hospitalised for Covid-19 in recent days, but he expected the numbers to continue “well over” 2,000. Sadly these figures would impact on hospital services, he said.
Mr Reid called for heightened awareness, but not heightened anxiety and urged people to continue to observe safety measures.
The benefit of the vaccination programme was that people were protected, unvaccinated people were eight times more likely to end up in ICU if they contracted Covid, he warned.
The impact of Covid on hospitals was more than just beds being occupied, he said. Wards had to be closed. Some hospitals had to reduce or cancel elective care, but there was good support from private hospitals with the HSE taking up 1,100 beds per week in private hospitals. This could increase more during the winter, he said.