There are now over 165 Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes as the HSE cautions the vaccine rollout may be delayed in some homes.
Junior minister for mental health and older people Mary Butler said on Wednesday: “We are currently experiencing huge challenges with more than 165 Covid outbreaks in nursing homes across the country, and significant staffing shortfalls because of the Covid surge.”
There were 142 such outbreaks in nursing homes, according to HSE figures last Thursday.
The current plan is to finish giving 75,000 staff and residents their first vaccine shot by this Sunday, and then go around again with the second dose next month.
However, a HSE spokeswoman said on Wednesday: “All nursing homes will be completed by the 24th with the exception of nursing homes where it has been possible to only partially complete vaccination due to the scale of current outbreaks.”
An outbreak is declared when two or more people have the virus so it is possible to safely continue during smaller outbreaks.
In a video posted online Ms Butler said: “Today I ask residents and families for their understanding during this incredibly difficult time, and to work with nursing homes on visiting arrangements.
"I would like to thank and support the dedicated staff of nursing and residential homes.”
Nursing home staff are screened regularly for Covid-19, and homes remain closed to indoor visitors under level 5 restrictions, except on compassionate grounds.