There is a 'hugely disproportionate' number of unvaccinated Covid patients in Irish hospitals, senior HSE officials have warned.
The head of the HSE's vaccination programme says "other factors" are often involved in the deaths of people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
A further 1,456 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on Saturday afternoon. As of 8am Saturday, some 261 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 66 are in ICU, officials confirmed.
Almost a quarter of Covid deaths here since April were among fully vaccinated people, while 17% of ICU admissions over the same period were also fully vaccinated.
Damien McCallion, the head of the HSE's vaccination programme, says underlying conditions are also involved in many cases.
"In overall terms what we have seen is the vaccination programme does provide a high level of protection for people," said Mr McCallion.
While no vaccine is 100% effective, Mr McCallion said research has shown that where people are fully vaccinated it provides protection in relation to severe illness and against mortality.
This morning, HSE Chief Paul Reid said there are a hugely disproportionate number of unvaccinated patients in our hospitals.
Mr Reid encouraged people who have yet to get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.
"It's never too late to be vaccinated and our commitment stands, to never leave anyone behind. It works," he said.
Walk-in vaccination clinics are open once again this weekend for adults and children over the age of 12.
Children aged between 12 and 15 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when attending a clinic.
Details of where and when the walk-in clinics are operating can be found here.
Mr McCallion also urged every person who is eligible to be vaccinated to inform themselves about the jab.
"We are encouraging children to come forward, to read the information with their parents in relation to the vaccine.
"Listen to the specialists and experts in vaccination. Use trusted sources for information.
"We are still seeing people coming forward in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s."
The HSE website offers information on both the benefits and risks so people will get a balanced view on the vaccines, Mr McCallion said.
Pop-up vaccination centres will open across many college campuses when students return this month, the Higher Education Minister has said.
Simon Harris said the initiative is to make it “as easy as possible” for students and staff to get vaccinated against Covid.
More than 83% of people between 16 and 29 have had their first dose and more than 78% are fully vaccinated, data shows.
Mr Harris tweeted: “Pleased to announce that my Department and I have worked with HSE and colleges to ensure pop-up vaccination centres will open across many college campuses this month.
“These pop-up vaccination centres will be in addition to the regular vaccination centres which already operate in some colleges for the general public and in addition to a plan to ensure vaccinations can be accessed through student GP services.
“Very grateful for the partnership between the department and the HSE and colleges.”
Some colleges are already home to vaccine centres while others will have pop-up vaccination clinics or will be able to avail of the vaccine from the student GP service.
In all, 22 colleges are set to benefit from these initiatives.
Meanwhile, air passengers who test positive for Covid-19 will no longer be subject to routine contact tracing.
Updated guidance from the HSE means it will only take place in future if recommended by health officials after a risk assessment.
This includes if there are more than 10 unrelated cases identified on a flight or if there is confirmation of a new variant of concern.