The number of people who are fully vaccinated in Ireland is “not high enough”, a senior HSE official has said.
The HSE’s chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry, said that around 8 per cent of the adult population is not fully vaccinated, which amounts to around 50,000 people.
Ireland has the highest rate of vaccine uptake in the European Union, with 92 per cent of people over the age of 18 fully vaccinated.
Mr Henry warned that the virus remains a threat to those who have not been vaccinated.
Our COVID-19 Vaccine programme has been an amazing success.
The High Level Task Force met for the last time today as the programme is now embedded in @roinnslainte and @HSELive
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— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) October 11, 2021
Acknowledging the high uptake rate, he added: “It’s not high enough and if you look at the remaining percentage that are not vaccinated, the eligible population is about 8 per cent.
“It’s a small percentage, but in absolute numbers that may translate to 40 or 50,000 people.”
He urged those who have not received their first dose to get vaccinated.
“There’s two reasons I would urge them to get vaccinated and one is to protect themselves.
“The virus is every much threat to them as it was before,” he added.
“They’re not protected from illness by other people being vaccinated.
“Secondly, because if they get sick over a short time period that will have an impact on the healthcare system going into the winter.”
It comes as the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is at the highest rate since March.
There are currently 400 people in hospital with the virus, with around 74 in intensive care units.
Mr Henry said that while the numbers are high, they are much lower than the number of cases in the community because of the vaccine programme.
“That link between cases and harming is weakened, severely weakened, but it’s not completely broken,” he added.
Around 40 per cent of hospital cases are unvaccinated patients, with some 69 per cent of people in ICU also not vaccinated.
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) October 11, 2021
“There still remains 40 or 50,000 people out there over the age of 40, we estimate, who remain not vaccinated, and they remain very vulnerable to a virus, a version which is very transmissible out there, and then that in turn could lead to the pressures in our system,” Mr Henry also warned.
He said that while normal activity has resumed, any additional pressure would strain the system.
He said that the number of people admitted to ICU is “creeping upwards” and that the number of beds remain “precious and small”.
A number of health clinics have been forced to postpone or cancel elective care to free up beds for people who become unwell from Covid and need ventilatory support.