Everyone identified as vulnerable to the virus will have been offered their booster by the end of the year, the HSE Chief has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Paul Reid was speaking after NPHET advised Government to introduce a new 5pm closing time for pubs and restaurants.
They also called for all indoor sporting and cultural events to take place before 5pm and be capped at 50% capacity.
Outdoor events would be capped at 50% or 5,000 people under the proposals.
Support health workers
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Mr Reid said nobody would envy the decisions facing Government today.
“I would bring it back to what I have responsibility for, which is duty of care,” he said.
“Every day I wake up, I think of our staff, I think of the impact and I think of them going in for Christmas.
“I think of many of the nurses who went home last Christmas not knowing what was ahead of them and then they came back to one of the darkest Januarys they have probably faced in their careers.
“We all, everybody collectively, want to - and I know the public wants to - give them that support.”
"We will get through this"
He said the booster campaign offers light at the end of the tunnel.
“We will get through this,” he said.
“We are seeing people coming forward in really strong numbers. I would say to people – and I really want to try and simplify it – by the end of December, we will be through the most vulnerable people who were identified as a priority for vaccination.
“That is 2.2 million people over 50 years of age, medically vulnerable, immunocompromised or living in long-term care.
“The reality of that is that gives us higher protection to the vulnerable and that is a positive place to be. So, by the end of December, those 2.2 million people will either have been vaccinated, offered an appointment or indeed have taken up the opportunity to walk in.”
He said over 55,000 vaccine doses were administered yesterday, including 53,000 boosters.
“By Christmas Day, we will be above and beyond what was previously indicated of 1.5 million [boosters administered],” he said.
“Today we are at over 1.4 million boosters third doses administered so that is really strong.”
Mr Reid noted that people in their 40s will start to be offered booster appointments from December 27th and form there, the age cohorts are “not as complicated as those we have done to date”.
Anyone who received their second dose more than three months ago and has not picked up COVID in the past six months will be automatically offered a booster.
“You should take the first opportunity you get,” he said.
“Separately, we are interested in vaccinating people as quickly as possible so we encourage everybody to either go to one of our walk-in vaccination centres – they facilitate that throughout the week at different times and you can see that on the HSE website.
“Also, you can also contact your local pharmacy that is participating in the programme who will arrange an appointment for you.”