The Deputy Chief Medical Officer has encouraged those who are eligible for a booster vaccine to take it when offered.
Dr Ronan Glynn made the comments as it was confirmed that 63 extra Covid-19 deaths have been notified in the last seven days.
Of those 63, 16 of those people sadly passed away in the last seven days – the other 47 passed away before that but their deaths were only reported this week.
Dr Glynn said: “Booster vaccinations are underway for those 80 years or older, 65 or older and living in a nursing home or long-term care facility and, following a review by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), will also now be administered to those aged over 60.
“It is important that all those eligible for a booster vaccine avail of the opportunity when it is offered.
“Similarly, those eligible for flu vaccination should now avail of this as we are seeing an increase in circulation of other respiratory viruses.”
As of 8am today, 464 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 86 are in ICU – this is the highest number of patients in critical care since March.
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “Disease incidence is high and increasing across the country and across all age groups. However, vaccination has helped us prevent many serious illnesses and deaths.
“COVID-19 is one of the most contagious viruses we have ever experienced. We have achieved extensive suppression of this disease in the past, our collective commitment to the basic measures now need to be reviewed and enhanced.
“While vaccination rates are extremely high, they are only one tool we need to use in protecting ourselves against COVID-19. The other is compliance with basic public health measures by the general public and across sectors. This will be critical in the weeks ahead and while infection rates remain high.
“The appropriate use of masks, physical distancing, well ventilated rooms, hand and respiratory hygiene, and the act of self-isolation with the onset of symptoms is vital if we are to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19 over the winter months.”
Parents of children who are eligible for vaccination have also been encouraged to avail of it.
Rachel Kenna, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health said: “Over 30% of the eligible population under the age of 18 are not yet fully vaccinated.
“I would urge parents to re-evaluate their position on vaccination and contact their GP or a healthcare professional for advice and information to address their concerns. Vaccines protect individuals from the more severe symptoms of COVID-19.”
Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said: “With relatively even levels of vaccination across all age groups, the median age of cases (36 years) has increased over recent weeks and is approaching the median age of the population (38 years) indicating that risk of infection is evenly distributed across the population.
“This also shows us that higher levels of socialisation rather than a waning of vaccine efficacy is the cause of this uptick in cases.
“Vaccination offers very high protection against severe disease, but incomplete protection against infection and onward transmission.
“It remains the case that vaccination combined with adherence to public health measures is the most effective way to suppress COVID-19.”
Dr. Cillian De Gascun, Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory and Medical Virologist said: “COVID-19 spreads primarily via droplet and aerosol transmission.
“Coughing and sneezing also generates droplets that can fall on surfaces and contaminate them.
“In congregated settings contaminated surfaces can lead to further transmission to people who touch the infected surface and proceed to touch their mouth, nose or eyes without first washing their hands.
“Understanding how the virus transmits is key to understanding how you can better protect yourself from contracting and spreading the virus further.
“Alongside mask wearing and good ventilation, regular hand washing remains an important protective measure against COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.”