Concerns over low uptake spur Coalition to mount Covid jab booster drive

High number of no-shows for booster appointments discussed at Cabinet meeting

The HSE said there has not been the same urgency from the public to go for boosters as during the initial vaccination programme. File photograph: Getty

The HSE said there has not been the same urgency from the public to go for boosters as during the initial vaccination programme. File photograph: Getty

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The Government is planning to mount a fresh push to the Covid-19 vaccination booster campaign amid concerns about the low uptake rate so far.

Ministers discussed the high number of no-shows for booster appointments at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin later telling the Dáil that just 93,000 of the 180,000 offered last week were taken up.

The Health Service Executive said the availability of boosters from GPs, pharmacies and vaccination centres may be a reason for the high level of no-shows at scheduled appointments. It said there has not been the same urgency from the public to go for boosters as during the initial vaccination programme, with people instead cancelling or looking to reschedule multiple times.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
896 90

The colder and wetter weather and reluctance to queue are seen as other reasons for choosing not to attend walk-in clinics at vaccination centres.

The high no-show rate has led to frustration among some in age groups eligible for their boosters, but still awaiting appointments. And it has also caused concern in health circles in advance of the anticipated spread of the Omicron variant, the first cases of which were reported in Northern Ireland last night.

Nearly 5,600 infections reported

Public health officials are due to update Department of the Taoiseach officials on the pandemic situation this morning. A further 5,590 cases of the virus were reported yesterday, with 505 patients in hospital including 117 in intensive care.

A Government spokesman said a new communications campaign would remind people of booster benefits, with just over a million people having received an additional dose.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Seanad people should be operating on the expectation that restrictions introduced yesterday on household meetings, hospitality and live events will remain in place until “at least January 9th”.

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