Covid booster vaccine now available to everyone aged 18 to 49
Appointments are now available.
The Health Service Executive will offer the Covid-19 booster vaccine to anyone in Ireland aged between 18 and 49.
It follows a previous warning issued by HSE officials anticipating the "highest pressure ever seen" on the Irish health system during the Christmas and New Year period.
As of Thursday morning (29 December), 723 people are in hospital in relation to Covid-19, of whom 35 are in ICU.
Overcrowding in hospitals has been reported in recent days, with many people waiting for admission on trolleys in accident and emergency departments across the country.
Responding to the re-emergence of Covid amongst the general population, the HSE is making the booster vaccine dose available to everyone in Ireland in the 18-49 age bracket. Appointments are currently available.
To book your vaccine appointment, go here.
"We continue to be very concerned about the steep rise in cases of Covid-19, influenza and other respiratory illness at this time," said HSE Chief Clinical Officer Colm Henry.
"Our GPs and hospitals are working hard to support people, but we have seen a more than 100% increase in cases of flu, and people needing hospital admission for flu. In the week ending on 24 December, we had 2,329 flu cases reported, compared to 1,174 the previous week.
"People needing hospital admission for flu jumped to 637, from 299 the previous week. Covid-19 cases increased to 3,809, compared to 3,118 the previous week, with 737 people in hospital with Covid-19."
Last week, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) urged the Government to take swift action and reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing on public transport.
Last Friday, NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said that there are significant concerns among public transport workers.
"There is potential here for Government to reset over the Christmas period, where there will be an obvious lull in the numbers travelling, and that is the time we believe for Government to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing for a limited time," said O'Leary on Morning Ireland.
Chief Medical Officer Breda Smyth has encouraged people to wear masks in public settings, though Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently indicated there are no plans to make them mandatory again.