Nearly 60% of the patients with COVID in hospital have not had their vaccine booster, the Health Minister has told The Hard Shoulder.
Yesterday nurses and doctors organisations called for the reintroduction of some COVID measures “as a matter of urgency”, warning that hospitals are becoming overwhelmed.
The Government’s emergency powers to enforces rules like mask-wearing expired last night and Minister Donnelly told Kieran that Ministers did not consider extending them.
He said Ireland was out of the emergency phase of the pandemic and the national response was now based on encouraging people to do three things – get vaccinated and boosted, isolate when sick and wear a mask in confined spaces.
He said nearly 60% of the patients with COVID in hospital at the moment are not boosted – a far higher proportion than the Chief Clinical Officer (CCO) suggested to Newstalk Breakfast earlier in the week.
“The thing that will make the biggest difference is the boosters,” he said. “If you think about it, I think it is about 57% of the 1,500 or 1,600 people who are in hospital with COVID at the moment - so nearly 60% of them - haven’t had their booster.
“Can you imagine the difference it would make and remember with thee boosters, the impact kicks in really, really quickly.
“So, for my money, the dingle biggest thing we can do to stand by our healthcare workers is for that group of people to get boosted – and we know we’re pushing on an open door here because these are men and women who have already had their first dose.”
This morning, there were 1,472 patients with COVID in Irish hospitals – down 63 on yesterday.
Earlier this week, HSE CCO Dr Colm Henry said around half the patients with COVID in hospital were there for other reasons.
He said half the patients who were admitted as a result of COVID were unboosted – at the time, around 400 patients.
Minister Donnelly said the government did not consider extending the COVID emergency powers.
He said Ireland was leaving the emergency phase of the pandemic and moving into the living with COVID phase.
He said the powers could be reintroduced if some awful variant hits us later on this year.
“I think it is really important when you take on emergency powers like that, that you hand them back as quickly as you can so that is what we have done.”