As it confirmed there are now 201 people in ICU with Covid-19, Nphet said it will give further guidance this week around ventilation as case numbers remain stubbornly high.
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan also said there should be certainty around who is getting the vaccine, and the rollout should follow priority listings.
This follows reports from around the country of people not in that priority category receiving the first shot of vaccine.
A further eight people have died from Covid-19 and there were 2,121 more cases announced today.
That brings the death toll to 2,616 and the total number of cases to 174,843 to date. There were 753 new cases notified in Dublin, 236 in Cork, 109 in Limerick, and 32 in Waterford.
On the return of children with special needs to classes, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there is no “zero-risk environment”.
Dr Glynn said Nphet will discuss new guidelines around ventilation later this week. These will apply to the general public as well as in the education sector.
This follows evidence that the new UK variant is more transmissible.
The hospital system was described as “pressurised, but functioning” by the HSE national clinical advisor and group lead for Hospital Groups Dr Vida Hamilton.
This is the first time the hospitals have run critical surge capacity during the pandemic, a system which includes less experienced nurses partnering with more experienced staff to share patient care.
She said critically ill patients are being moved between hospitals if required to enable them to access care safely. The Beacon hospital group has still not signed an overall agreement with the HSE, Dr Hamilton said.
Asked about access to the vaccine, she said vaccine centres now have a list of 120 stand-by people who can be contacted if there is excess vaccine once staff are finished.
These people are chosen from priority groups, and the protocol was put in place on January 12 following reports from some hospitals of non-frontliners being given the jab.
Dr Holohan said he expects the priority system to be followed.
He said: “All of us here will recognise there are particular responsibilities in not only following, but being seen to uphold, the highest standards.”
There have been reports of 81 adverse incidents following vaccination, all fitting a predicted pattern of mild incidents including temporary dizziness or rashes, the briefing heard.
Health Products Regulatory Authority chief executive Dr Louise Nolan said there is ongoing safety monitoring of the Covid-19 vaccines.
This is done at local level by the people doing vaccinations and then reported up to the European Medicines Agency to feed into their analysis. Companies, including Pfizer, must also submit monthly reports.
“The EMA has confirmed that no deaths have been attributed to the Covid-19 vaccine so far,” she said.