COVID-19 booster vaccines are being offered to people aged 18 to 49-years-old from today, the HSE has confirmed.
It comes as the country’s hospitals remain under severe strain with high numbers of respiratory infections, including COVID, flu and RSV.
Yesterday, there were 571 admitted patients waiting for a bed in Irish hospitals – with 456 waiting on trolleys and 115 in wards.
Meanwhile, there were 737 COVID patients admitted to hospital, with 35 in intensive care.
The HSE’s COVID vaccination lead Eileen Whelan told Newstalk it is “really, really important” that anyone eligible for a vaccine or booster comes forward and gets them.
“While we all accept that older people and people with underlying medical conditions and people who are immunocompromised are in the higher at-risk group, we are still seeing a high number of people in the 18-49 age group who are testing positive for COVID,” she said.
“We are also seeing people in this age group being admitted to hospital.”
She said nearly one in ten of Ireland's COVID patients are aged 18 to 49-years-old.
“8% of all the people in hospital with COVID-19 are in the 15 – 49 age group,” she said.
“That is a total of 65 people in that age group that have been hospitalised due to COVID
“19% of people in the 35 to 44 age group have tested positive for COVID-19. That is the highest age group category that has tested positive.”
Just before Christmas, the HSE asked GPs to work longer daily shifts and open on Saturdays for the next four weeks to help the health system cope with the ‘unprecedented strain’ it is coming under.
The Chief Medical Officer Breda Smyth has also ‘strongly advised’ people to wear masks while using public transport over the coming weeks.
Vaccine appointments can be made on the HSE website.