Almost 20,000 cases reported over past fortnight as public urged to keep following public health advice

Almost 20,000 cases reported over past fortnight as public urged to keep following public health advice

Parents are urged to read up on all of the information available on vaccines and children through the HSE before making a decision on whether or not to vaccinate their child.

There have been 1,522 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, the Department of Health has said.

There are 217 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 34 people in intensive care.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said: "Over the past fortnight we have reported almost 20,000 cases. While 17% of these cases were in people who are doubly vaccinated, this is entirely in keeping with what we expect as an increasing proportion of our population get vaccinated." 

He added that it is "important to remember that this does not mean vaccines are not effective. While they will not prevent every case, they provide excellent protection against severe disease and significantly reduce the risk of hospitalisation."

Case data is subject to change as future cases are validated and updated. 

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn called on people to continue to follow public health advice. 

"Please remember that you should stay at home if you have any cold or flu symptoms even if you are fully vaccinated, because you could still transmit Covid-19. 

"If you wait to isolate until you get the results of your test, you will be much more likely to pass it on to others in your family and community."

The latest case data comes after a second weekend with walk-in vaccination clinics operating across the country.

Vaccination data

According to HSE chief, almost 9,000 people attended one of the 38 clinics to receive their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Paul Reid said that two-thirds of those who attended had not previously registered for the jab.

"All age groups were represented and on occasions full families attended," he said.

"We're on the final leg of the vaccination programme now."

Registration for the 12 to 15 years age group will open this Thursday and Dr Lucy Jessop, Director of the National Immunisation Office has said that the first vaccinations for this group could go ahead this weekend.

Consent from one parent or a guardian will be required and she urged them to read the details of the vaccination on the HSE’s website.

“It’s important that a parent make the right choice for their family.” 

"Good take up" expected

Dr Jessop, who is also a Director of Public Health and is responsible for the coordination of all national immunisation programmes, said that the vaccine will be available through vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies.

Parents and guardians should read up on all the information, she urged.

“I think there will be good take up,” she said, particularly in advance of the return to school.

This age group will be given the Pfizer vaccine which had been shown to be appropriate for the cohort, she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

International studies had shown there were no safety concerns.

While children generally recovered well if they had Covid-19, there had been a small number of cases of Long Covid in children in Ireland, she said.

Booster jabs 

16-year-old, Ciara Brady, from Clonakility, after her vaccination, at the Clonakilty Covid-19 walk-in vaccination centre. Pictures: Jim Coughlan.
16-year-old, Ciara Brady, from Clonakility, after her vaccination, at the Clonakilty Covid-19 walk-in vaccination centre. Pictures: Jim Coughlan.

Immunologist Professor Luke O'Neill says that as we head into the final phase of the vaccine rollout, attention needs to turn to booster shots next.

He likened the additional jab to a 'refresher course' for the immune system.

"The two shots you give get the whole thing going and everything is firing and it's fine and then it wanes a bit, or perhaps gets less strong over time," said Prof O'Neill.

"So then you give a booster and it is really high then again."

Last week, the World Health Organisation called for a moratorium on administering booster doses while countries in the developing world are still in need of vaccine to immunise their population.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the appeal mostly to wealthier countries that have far outpaced the developing world in numbers of vaccinations.

The UN health agency has repeatedly called for rich countries to do more to help improve access to vaccines in the developing world.

Dr Tedros pointed to a WHO target set earlier this year to ensure that 10% of the populations in countries receive vaccines against the coronavirus.

Israel, France, Germany and many Middle Eastern countries have already started administering booster jabs, and other nations, including the US and UK, are considering plans to do so in the wake of the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Hospital numbers expected to rise, impacting non-Covid care

A consultant in infectious diseases expects more people to end up in hospital with Covid in the coming weeks.

Non-Covid care impacted

RCSI Senior Lecturer Eoghan de Barra says a surge in Covid admissions will have knock on effects on non-Covid care.

"This is an additional number of patients that wouldn't normally be in hospital at this time of year," said Dr de Barra.

"A 200-300 burden of patients that are more complex and have to be isolated from the rest of the hospital means space, capacity diverted away from business as usual.

"We know a lot of business as usual has been paused or postponed for many months."

Dr de Barra welcomed the high level of testing as the HSE estimate over 23,000 swabs were taken in community testing sites over the weekend.

He said the current level of testing over the past week is similar to numbers seen during the virus surge in January of this year.

"By people presenting, getting tested, isolating and following the basic public health measures, gives us the best chance of having good data, good information to make good decisions."

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