The number of people who are fully-vaccinated in Ireland is “not high enough”, a senior HSE official has said.
he HSE’s chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry, said that around 8pc of the adult population is not fully vaccinated, which amounts to around 50,000 people.
Ireland has the highest rate of vaccine uptake in the European Union, with 92pc of people over the age of 18 fully vaccinated.
Mr Henry warned that the virus remains a threat to those who have not been vaccinated.
Acknowledging the high uptake rate, he added: “It’s not high enough and if you look at the remaining percentage that are not vaccinated, the eligible population is about 8%.
“It’s a small percentage, but in absolute numbers that may translate to 40 or 50,000 people.”
He urged those who have not received their first dose to get vaccinated.
“There’s two reasons I would urge them to get vaccinated and one is to protect themselves.
“The virus is every much threat to them as it was before,” he added.
“They’re not protected from illness by other people being vaccinated.
“Secondly, because if they get sick over a short time period that will have an impact on the healthcare system going into the winter.”
It comes as the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is at the highest rate since March.
There are currently 400 people in hospital with the virus, with around 74 in intensive care units.
Mr Henry said that while the numbers are high, they are much lower than the number of cases in the community because of the vaccine programme.
“That link between cases and harming is weakened, severely weakened but it’s not completely broken,” he added.
Around 40% of hospital cases are unvaccinated patients, with some 69% of people in ICU also not vaccinated.
“There there still remains 40 or 50,000 people out there over the age of 40, we estimate, who remain not vaccinated, and they remain very vulnerable to a virus, a version which is very transmissible out there, and then that in turn could lead to the pressures in our system,” Mr Henry also warned.
He said that while normal activity has resumed, any additional pressure would strain the system.
He said that the number of people admitted to ICU is “creeping upwards” and that the number of beds remain “precious and small”.
A number of health clinics have been forced to postpone or cancel elective care to free up beds for people who become unwell from Covid and need ventilatory support.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland