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Two million booster jab will be given out by Christmas Day as case numbers climb

Thursday saw third-highest daily total of pandemic
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Mark Condren

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Mark Condren

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan

Eavan Murray

Nearly two million people will have received their Covid-19 booster vaccine by this evening.

The news comes as health chiefs confirmed an additional 7,411 cases of Covid-19 yesterday, the highest daily total since last January and the third-highest since the pandemic began.

A record of 8,258 cases was recorded on January 8, which was due to a lag in recorded cases. Two days previous, the figure reached 7,861.

The latest figures show 390 people are battling the virus in hospitals across the country, down 39 since Wednesday.

Of the 390 hospitalised patients, 98 are in ICU, which has seen a further drop for the fourth day in a row.

In the UK, a record 119,789 lab-confirmed new Covid-19 cases were reported yesterday.

The Health Security Agency said there had been 16,817 additional confirmed cases of the Omicron variant reported across the UK, taking the total confirmed to 90,906.

Here, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the Omicron variant now accounts for nearly three-quarters of cases in Ireland.

“It is imperative that all of us, to the greatest extent possible, make every effort we can in the next two to three weeks to only meet with members of our own households,” he said.

“Consider your plans over the Christmas period and into the early part of the new year and try to keep your contacts as low as possible.”

Dr Holohan advised that if anyone in a household receives a “detected” or “positive” Covid test result either via a PCR test or an antigen test, “then all members of the household should restrict their movements and not attend work or socialise with others”.

It comes as Ireland is on the brink of a milestone in the Covid-19 vaccine booster programme, with doses administered due to reach two million by Christmas Day.

Paul Hooton, Saolta executive lead for the roll-out of the vaccination programme in the West and North-west, described the landmark figure as “a huge accomplishment”.

“We are about to hit two million boosters, which would have been unbelievable when we started our journey a couple of weeks back,” he said.

“Our ambition was to hit 1.5 million, and that was an optimistic estimate, and it felt unattainable. But for us to go and hit two million going into Christmas Day is a real testament to the workforce we have behind the scenes.

“In terms of our vaccinators, we scaled up our centres from seven hours a day, five days a week, to 12-hour days, seven days a week, in a matter of two days.

“The HSE is doing a fantastic job, and on the ground we are the ones delivering the programme and getting the job done.

“And this achievement is due to our ability to adapt and change and scale up and push on and run programmes at pace when we needed to.

“The job isn’t done, not by a long shot. We are back full force on Monday morning, running all our clinics seven days a week for 12 hours each day. My simple message is, thank you to all our vaccinators, admin staff and car park attendants. What they have achieved is truly inspiring.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed last night that everyone in the country would be offered their booster jab by early January.

Vaccination centres nationwide will close tomorrow and on St Stephen’s Day and reopen on Monday. All 41 test centres will be open today and 25 test centres will open tomorrow with reduced hours.

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