The head of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said there is no longer a direct link between daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations, owing to the vaccine programme.
It comes as Ireland 'crossed the threshold' of administering two million vaccine doses on Thursday.
Paul Reid told Newstalk Breakfast this was "very positive news indeed".
"This morning we're down to 99 COVID cases in hospital, 36 of those in ICU - which is a number that we haven't seen since early September.
"And that's really positive for us.
"What it is demonstrating is that while we are still at over 400 cases - and we all still need to take the action to try and get that down further - there's not the direct correlation between daily cases and hospitalisations, and indeed sickness and ICU and mortality.
"That's really good and re-enforcing for the vaccination programme."
He said the benefits of vaccines are very strong.
"Always important to reassure or to state [while] we haven't got to everybody in vaccination programme, very positively we have crossed that threshold of over two million vaccines.
"That's 38% of the the Irish population - 1.47 million - have now had their first dose, and 14% of the population - over 550,000 - are fully vaccinated with two doses.
"We've still a good bit to go, but benefits are very strong so far".
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson
Asked about comments from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and Government vaccine targets, Mr Reid said they have had significant volumes in the last fortnight.
"Everything we are doing is to keep this vaccination programme going and for the momentum that every vaccines we get on any given week we're administering.
"Even with the very significant volumes that we're beginning to see come through over the last two weeks, we're doing that.
"Over the last two weeks 93% and 96% respectively of vaccines available [are] being administered within a seven day timeframe."
On suggestions that use of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines could be expanded to younger age groups, he said: "That is part of the submission that we made, and part of our recommendation that we made.
"That's consideration that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee assess based on safety issues - and we respect that process, we await that decision to emerge".