The operational plan on booster shots for the 60-80 age group, approved by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, will be finalised by the end of next week at the latest, with jabs beginning shortly afterwards, Paul Reid has pledged.
The chief executive of the Health Service Executive told RTÉ Radio 1 that "we are progressing through" administering third Covid-19 vaccine doses to people who are immunocompromised, people aged over 65 in long-term care facilities and people over 80.
“With the 60s to 80s, we are putting together the operational plan about how we go about this,” he said. “We expect to have that finalised by the end of the week at the latest and commenced shortly after that.
“We will be proactively calling those people. We will be making contact. We are addressing those people in sequential basis.”
Mr Reid also said he is anxious to see healthcare workers receive booster shots as a matter of priority.
“We increasingly have more and more staff out with Covid or symptomatic close contacts. We are seeing more outbreaks and I think from my perspective we have a duty of care to staff and patients. We are quite concerned about seeing outbreaks [of Covid] emerging.
“We know when the virus is so strong in the community it increases the risk of outbreaks in healthcare settings.”
A further 2,427 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the State on Saturday. As of 8am on Saturday morning, there were 449 patients in hospital with the virus, including 93 in intensive care.
Doctors have expressed concerns at the pressure the latest wave of Covid-19 infections is putting on the healthcare system, particularly intensive care units (ICU), as hospitals are forced to cancel surgeries.
The rising number of critical Covid-19 cases has forced University Hospital Galway to turn its cardiothoracic ICU into a Covid ICU.
When asked if Covid certs should be compulsory for members of the public visiting patients in hospital, Mr Reid acknowledged it was certainly an issue to be looked at.
However, he said he is conscious that such a move could create an increased burden on health staff in terms of having to manage checking Covid certificates.
He urged family members visiting patients in hospital to be conscious of their safety and the welfare of other patients and staff.
“We would be urging people to get vaccinated. If your loved ones or family members are in hospital or in a long-care facility, get vaccinated for those visits.”