The prioritisation of Covid-19 booster vaccines for healthcare workers will “need to be considered”, a Consultant in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine at St James’s Hospital, Dublin has said.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor, Professor Clíona Ní Cheallaigh said it will be “very hard” to keep the health service running with the current levels of “sickness and absence” due to Covid-19.
The number of children with the virus is also having an impact on staffing, she added.
None of the healthcare workers at St James’s Hospital, who are isolating as a result of contracting of Covid-19 have required ICU care, Prof Ní Cheallaigh said, but she added that she is “concerned” about the possible consequences of long Covid.
“We don’t know if vaccinated people who get Covid will end up with long Covid so it is a worrying time for us all,” she said.
The Government should consider measures, such as mask wearing, to limit the risks of infection as children return to school after the mid-term break, Prof Ní Cheallaigh said.
“We need to do everything in our powers to keep schools as safe as we can.”
On the same programme, Immunologist Dr Annie Curtis said a decision on booster vaccines for healthcare workers “can’t come soon enough”.
“There is an urgent need now because so many healthcare workers are off sick.
“We know immunity is waning … and they are in more high risk situations than we are because they are in the hospital setting.”
Previous waves of Covid-19 infections “peaked and dropped” with the subsequent imposition of restrictions, Dr Curtis said, but she added “now the reliance is on vaccinations”.
There are 500 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals around the country, according to the latest figures.
It represents an increase of thirty patients since yesterday.
93 of these patients are being treated in intensive care units – an increase of one from yesterday.
It comes after 2,966 cases of Covid-19 were reported yesterday, the highest daily figure since 16 January.
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The Government should have moved on the vaccine booster programme by now, according to the leader of Sinn Féin.
Mary Lou McDonald told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that there should not be a wait on the booster programme being rolled out.
“If it was my call I would move on it immediately,” she said.
Ms McDonald said she does not want to see another lockdown, and stated the booster programme is as effective, and possibly more effective, than further restrictions.
People urged to take care trick-or-treating
Meanwhile the Chief Medical Officer has urged people to take care while enjoying Halloween festivities.
Speaking on Friday, Dr Tony Holohan said that people should hand out treats to trick-or-treaters where possible.
“Wash or sanitise hands frequently and before eating or handling treats,” Dr Holohan said.
“If you are having visitors over, provide hand sanitiser, open windows and try to ensure people can spread out and keep their distance from one another – avoid crowded parties,” he added.
Dr Holohan also said that “neither children nor adults should go trick-or-treating or meet up with others if they have any symptoms of Covid-19, even if symptoms are minor.”