People will no longer be asked to spend 15 minutes under medical supervision after getting their vaccine.
The Health Minister this evening confirmed that the waiting period would be waived in a bid to speed up the booster rollout.
It comes after GPs this morning warned that the waiting period was a ‘significant challenge’ for practices – noting that the number of jabs that could be administered would double if it was waived.
Speaking outside Leinster House this evening, Stephen Donnelly said he had seen modelling suggesting the peak of hospitalisations from Omicron could be as bad or worse than Delta.
He said a number of modelling scenarios suggest the number of patients in hospital could be as bad or worse than January of this year – but noted that the booster programme will ensure older and vulnerable people have a lot more protection.
He confirmed that vaccination centres will now open from 8am until 8pm and the 15-minute waiting period is being waived to boost the input of GPs and pharmacies.
In a stark warning this evening Stephen Donnelly said the coming wave could be very bad.
“When you are asking me is it potentially similar to last year in terms of the number of cases, yes it could well be,” he said.
“It could be more. In terms of hospitalisations, yes that is entirely possible.
“The huge difference to last year is the vaccines and the boosters.”
The HSE is currently finalising a plan to 'really accelerate' the booster campaign later this week – and is aiming to be able to administer 300,000 jabs a week.
The plan is expected to see GPs suspending all non-urgent appointments to focus on the booster rollout as part of a national effort in response to the Omicron variant.
Currently, around 75% of GPs are administering around 80,000 vaccines per week. The new plan aims to get all GPs involved, doubling that output to 160,000 per week.
The plan is also likely to see a doubling of the number of pharmacies involved.