Demand for Covid-19 boosters surges as adapted vaccines are made available

Almost 30,000 received second booster this week as number of cases and hospitalisations rise

Almost 30,000 people have received a second booster against Covid-19 this week, in the biggest uptick in the vaccine rollout for four months.

The increase in demand for vaccines coincides with a rise in virus cases and hospitalisations over recent weeks. The Health Service Executive began providing adapted booster vaccines, which protect against the variant currently circulating in Ireland as well as the original strain of the virus, from this week.

More than 13,000 booster doses were administered on Tuesday, and more than 12,000 on Wednesday, according to the Department of Health. These are the highest daily figures since late May.

In total, almost 714,000 people have received a second booster vaccine against Covid-19, about 15 per cent of the population, the department said. Just over 3 million people have received a first booster, or 63 per cent of the population.


Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 outbreaks almost doubled last week, largely due to a rise in infections in hospitals and nursing homes.

There were 59 outbreaks reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre last week, compared with 31 the week before.

Outbreaks in hospital rose from five to 17, and those in nursing homes from 13 to 19. Residential institutions also saw an increase, from eight to 12.

The largest outbreak in a nursing home involved 18 cases, and the largest in a hospital, eight.

The number of PCR-confirmed cases was stable last week, while the number of people reporting positive antigen tests increased by 5.2 per cent. Test positivity, a good indicator of the level of infection in the community, increased from 11.7 per cent to 13.1 per cent.

The incidence of confirmed cases generally increased with age, with the highest incidence recorded among over-85s. However, testing is restricted generally to older age groups.

Rates of increase were also higher among older people.

Offaly, Kilkenny and Carlow had the highest incidence of confirmed cases, and Longford, Mayo and Leitrim the lowest.

There were 406 patients with Covid-19 in hospital on Thursday, including eight in ICU. Not all patients testing positive for the virus in hospital are there because of it.

Increasing case numbers in a number of European countries are being attributed to the change in season as well as the proliferation of multiple new subvariants of Covid-19 that are better able to evade the immunity provided by vaccination or infection. Among those tipped for further growth are BA.2.75.2, BQ.1.1 and XBB.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times