Ireland is likely to move away from using the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, the HSE CEO Paul Reid has confirmed.
He says countries across the EU are now set to focus on the mRNA vaccines - Pfizer and Moderna - for the remainder of the vaccination programme and any booster campaigns.
He was speaking as 90% of adults in Ireland have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 81% now fully vaccinated.
Over 80,000 children aged 12-15 have now registered for a vaccine, with 20,000 of those having received a first dose already.
Mr Reid said that level of early take-up - out of around 280,000 people in the age group - is similar to what the HSE has seen with previous age groups.
Speaking on On The Record, the HSE boss also said Ireland now has a very strong and consistent supply of mRNA vaccines.
Asked if the focus will shift to those vaccines, Mr Reid said: "That’s the likely trajectory - and the likely trajectory at EU-level.
"At the EU-level, the steering board has recommended each country make a decision to suspend the further delivery of Johnson & Johnson and indeed AstraZeneca.
"That’s the approach we’ll likely be taking."
He said current mRNA vaccine supplies - including the 700,000 due to arrive from Romania - will leave Ireland in a strong position to vaccinate 12-15-year-olds, reach vulnerable groups and complete dose two vaccinations.
He also said many GPs and pharmacies are now administering the mRNA vaccines, alongside the mass vaccination centres.
One issue raised in the newspapers today is the issue of vaccine booster shots.
Experts including Professors Luke O'Neill and Anthony Staines have called on Ireland to hold off on such a campaign until more people are vaccinated in poorer and developing countries, echoing a call made by the World Health Organisation.
Mr Reid said he has worked for the likes of Trocaire in the past and seen the level of inequality that exists globally when it comes to healthcare.
He said: “I have a strong belief that yes we have to do something on a global level.
"This is a global pandemic - we all have to play our part.
"But I do believe it is possible - when you look at the levels of vaccines the EU and Ireland have procured - that we can carry out a booster campaign along with supporting developing countries."
However, he stressed a final decision will be made by Government.
Over 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday for the first time since January.
Mr Reid says the vaccines are working to limit the number of patients in hospitals and ICU with the virus.
However, he said the rising cases in the last six weeks are quite significant, and many of the 248 people in Irish hospitals with the virus are very sick.
He said the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital has a "disproportionate impact" on the hospital system due to the need for strict infection control measures.
This is particularly the case due to high numbers of people attending emergency departments or now coming forward for care that was delayed earlier in the pandemic.
The HSE CEO said: “It’s a real alert to all of us - take strong encouragement vaccinations are working, but we’re not bulletproof."