Health officials hope to vaccinate 10,000 people aged 16 to 64 with chronic conditions in the coming week.
The HSE’s chief clinical officer, Dr Colm Henry, told RTÉ radio’s News at One that the State’s rollout will progress to Cohort 4 after the weekend.
High risk people moving to Cohort 4 will be identified through the hospital system and through primary care, he explained. The absence of a National Diseases Registry in Ireland made it difficult to identify those most at risk in this cohort.
“It’s not an easy task. We will begin contacting them next week — it’s about 160,000 people in all,” Dr Henry said.
Cancer patients and those with renal difficulties will be among those prioritised in the revised Cohort 4, he added.
Dr Henry said that issues over the past week with the rollout of vaccines to GPs should not have happened. The issues meant that instead of the target figure of 100,000, the number of those vaccinated was likely to have been 82,000, with a further 84,000 in the coming week.
However, the majority of some 1,300 GPs had received the vaccine, he said. While some quantities had been kept as a buffer for second doses, 99 per cent of the vaccines received had been delivered.
Dr Henry said it had been disappointing to get “fairly short notice” from AstraZeneca of a shortfall in the delivery due next week, but the HSE had been assured that this would be made up before the end of the quarter.
The good news, Dr Henry said, was that there was considerable protection for healthcare workers even after just the first dose, this meant there had been “a huge drop” in the numbers sick with Covid-19.
When asked about carers being recategorised on the priority list, he said that the current level of prioritisation was working, but that the list was “agile” and could be changed if required.