Booster jab rollout likely to be extended as Ministers consider wider use of Covid certs

The Cabinet sub-committee is considering whether Covid certs could be required to attend gyms, hairdressers and barbers.
Booster jab rollout likely to be extended as Ministers consider wider use of Covid certs

Dominic McGrath and Cate McCurry, PA

The Minister for Health has indicated that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is set to recommend an extension to the booster programme.

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet sub-committee meeting on Monday evening, Stephen Donnelly said he is expecting "additional advice this evening from Niac".

"I’ll confirm it later when we have it, but the indications are it is positive in terms of adding significant additional number to those who would be availing of boosters.

“The evidence from the boosters is incredibly strong. We have about 1.4 million people already greenlighted for the boosters and working with the HSE it is all hands on deck, in terms of getting them all out," he added.

The meeting, which is ongoing, is being held to allow Government Ministers to consider the advice of public health experts as Covid incidence continues to increase across the country.

Shortly before the meeting, the Department of Health confirmed 4,570 new cases of the virus, while 622 people with Covid were receiving hospital treatment, including 117 in ICU.

Mr Donnelly warned the number of people admitted to hospital and in ICU with the virus will continue to rise in the coming weeks.

"Cases are continuing to rise rapidly. The pressure on our hospital system, including ICU, continues.

"We have received new modelling, just in the last few hours, which suggests that the cases, hospitalisations and ICU will continue to rise in the coming weeks."

Work from home

Last week, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended that the Government should advise people to work from home when possible.

The sub-committee is also expected to consider a more general use of antigen tests and expanding the use of Covid passes.

Hairdressers and gyms are among some of the places Ministers will examine as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Speaking earlier on Monday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there were lessons to be learned from other countries, including the UK, in how antigen tests were rolled out.

Mr Martin said he supported the subsidisation of antigen tests to make them “more affordable”, particularly over winter.

He also appealed to people to reduce how much they were socialising, as that would have the biggest impact on reducing the number of Covid cases.

“We have to look at that, individually and collectively as a society. That’s important to keep the lid on the virus,” Mr Martin added.

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