People who haven't come forward yet for COVID-19 vaccination are "really putting themselves at risk", the head of the HSE has warned.
Paul Reid was speaking as over 80% of adults are now partially vaccinated, with two-thirds fully vaccinated.
As of yesterday, vaccine registration is open to everybody aged over 18.
However, it also comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases - a situation that has largely been attributed to the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus.
Mr Reid told The Hard Shoulder the vaccine programme is working, with the jabs offering people a "strong level of protection".
He said: “Vaccines work, and it’s well-proven they work - just to reassure people
“Anybody who has had the opportunity and hasn’t come forward for vaccination… you’re really putting yourself at risk. You reduce your risk very significantly by coming forward.”
As of today, the HSE has started releasing data around the number of vaccinated people being hospitalised with the virus.
Mr Reid said: “There were about 18 people who were fully vaccinated [in hospital] out of the total 95-96.
"I wouldn’t read too much into that at this stage… it’s too early to make any judgements.”
Testing, meanwhile, shows around 7-10% of positive cases are among vaccinated people - something Mr Reid said is not surprising, as it's in line with the data and evidence around vaccine efficacy.
He said the key goal at the moment is to limit a rise in cases among under-34s, as a high level of community transmission mean more cases will "breakthrough" to older, vaccinated people.
He observed: “We all want to see the finish line… in trying to get there, we do have another big hurdle in front of us. But we should tackle that hurdle with reasonable levels of confidence."
Mr Reid also noted there's been "steady rise" in hospitalisations from COVID-19 over the last seven to ten days.
He said: "Right now, there are 95 positive COVID patients in the hospital, with 23 in ICU - up about 32%.
“The reality from us… is we want to continue our focus on non-COVID care. We won’t really see the impact for the next few weeks - the rise in case load has a bit of a lag period, before you start to see hospitalisations.”
He noted that lag period is usually around two weeks - meaning increasing case numbers usually take two weeks to translate into increasing hospitalisations.