Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has confirmed that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) met on Monday to discuss approving vaccinations for children aged 5-11.
Speaking on Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ 1, he said there would be a "significant decision" on vaccinations soon.
He added that Niac met on Monday to discuss the priority order of vaccinations, “particularly in relation to children aged 5-11, which we are keen to get started in the new year”.
When asked about comments made recently by Dr Cillian De Gascun, a member of Nphet, that he was "hopeful" the schools would reopen in January, Mr Varadkar claimed that school closures have not been discussed by Government.
“The Minister for Education is responsible for schools, and what she has said, and certainly what I would support, is the schools are going to open in the new year... there has been no decision, nor discussion, about closing schools in January.”
Mr Varadkar said the country was in a “peculiar” situation, clarifying comments that he made at the weekend. “This is the first time since the pandemic began that we are actually tightening restrictions at a time when things are objectively improving.”
He said that despite the number of deaths and numbers of people in hospital and ICU declining, the public health advice was that some restrictions are necessary ahead of increased socialisation at Christmas.
He said the possibility of a flu season and the emergence of the Omicron variant were also contributing factors to the decision to increase restrictions, as well as the fact that cases are stabilising at a high level, at about 5,000 cases being reported a day.
He did not believe the new restrictions would be lifted before January 9th, unless there was a dramatic fall in hospitalisations and ICU admissions.
Live events are set to be limited to 50 per cent capacity, pubs and restaurants will be limited to tables of six only with no multiple bookings, and nightclubs will close.