The HSE is bracing itself for a 'twindemic' of COVID-19 and flu this winter that could put 20,000 people in hospital.
A draft winter plan seen by the Sunday Independent says the health service could be facing one of its worst winters in years with "unprecedented and sustained" levels of unplanned hospital admissions - particularly among the elderly.
The paper reports some parts of the plan warn of more than 900 people in ICUs over the winter period and up to 17,000 coronavirus hospital admissions in total.
There could be up to 4,350 people admitted to hospital for the flu.
In July, The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) criticised the government's lack of preparation for the winter season at the time.
Director of Professional Services with the INMO Tony Fitzpatrick told Newstalk: “We need to heed the warnings from our colleagues in Australia when it comes to mitigating the impact of both flu and COVID in Irish hospitals over the coming months."
“Nurses and other healthcare staff cannot be expected to sustain this type of pressure right into the winter", he said.
"It's not fair on patients or staff for them to shoulder the burden of failed policy, inadequate action on the part of government."
DCU's Professor of Health Systems Anthony Staines says the new adaptive bivalent vaccines aimed at the Omicron variants are in circulation now.
It is hoped that the new boosters will be more effective.
Adapted bivalent COVID-19 vaccines, which will be rolled out here from early October, include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron variant.
Dr Staines told Newstalk how the new boosters work.
"The vaccines themselves are the same, they've just got vaccines against the original virus and the new virus in them", he said.
"So, from the point of view of side effects and so on, they should be very similar to the original vaccine."
"There have been quite significant studies done showing that they're likely to have a substantial effect on the population."
Main image shows a sign for the HSE.