The chief executive of the HSE has said that the most difficult thing he has ever had to do through work was to contact the families of healthcare workers who died from Covid-19.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Paul Reid said he was a strong advocate for the booster vaccine for healthcare workers.
However, he said that ultimately, Niac (The National Immunisation Advisory Committee) is the expert in this area and he had to be guided by their advice.
Mr Reid said there had been an uptake of people registering for the vaccine in recent days from 800 to 2,500 per day and the HSE would continue numerous initiatives to increase that uptake.
There had been a slight reduction in the numbers being hospitalised for Covid-19 in recent days, but he expected the daily case numbers to continue to be “well over” 2,000.
He said these figures would impact hospital services.
Mr Reid called for heightened awareness, but not heightened anxiety and urged people to continue to observe safety measures.
The benefit of the vaccination programme was that people were protected, Unvaccinated people are eight times more likely to end up in ICU if they contracted Covid, he warned.
Mr Reid said the impact of Covid on hospitals is more than just beds being occupied as wards also have to be closed.
In addition, some hospitals have to reduce or cancel elective care, but there is good support from private hospitals with the HSE taking up 1,100 beds per week in private hospitals.
He said that this could increase more during the winter.
456 admitted patients are waiting for beds this morning, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
A total of 379 patients are waiting in emergency department's across the country, while 77 are in wards elsewhere in hospitals.
56 patients were waiting for beds in Letterkenny University Hospital this morning, an increase of six patients when compared to yesterday's figures, while 48 are on trolleys in University Hospital Galway today.
There are 38 people awaiting a bed at University Hospital Limerick.
Yesterday, there were 499 waiting for beds in hospitals across the country.
In the last week, 14,758 new cases of Covid-19 were identified — the fourth highest weekly total since the pandemic began.
There has also been a 27% increase in patients being admitted to hospital over the past two weeks, rising to 503 yesterday. Of these, 101 were in intensive care units (ICU).