It’s a tempting prospect. But could a speedy roll-out of Covid-19 booster shots be the key to avoiding a return of restrictions this winter and saving Christmas?
It takes just one booster jab this time around to reboot the defences of a fully vaccinated person in only two weeks.
Boosters could potentially do a lot of the heavy lifting. But how far across the population do you go with the offer of a booster? It’s a dilemma that will not go away.
And how ethical is it when so many millions in poorer countries have not had the chance of even a first dose?
But, with rising Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and intensive care admissions forecast this month, time is not on our side. A booster shot six months after full vaccination could potentially super-charge immunity.
A senior adviser to the government in Israel, which offered a booster to everyone over the age of 12, said over the weekend that a third shot is “as good as a lockdown”.
Professor Doron Gazit described how the virus was growing exponentially and hospitals in Israel were under pressure from a rise in patients with the virus.
The boosters are credited with Covid-19 cases there plummeting by 80pc and a big reduction in fully vaccinated people getting very sick.
There has been much hand-wringing here about extending boosters beyond the most obvious at-risk groups. They were first recommended for the over-80s, the over-65s in nursing homes and people with very weakened immune systems.
The next group – who are expected to begin getting a booster shot from this week – are people aged 60-79.
Healthcare workers have been making a strong case for their inclusion. Figures yesterday show there were 2,979 breakthrough infections in the fully vaccinated between the end of January and the end of August. Of those, 11pc were healthcare workers.
The median time from second vaccine dose to infection was 51 days. And from September 5 to October 16, 25,433 of the 58,361 people who tested positive were fully vaccinated.
When the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) last month decided to not to extend boosters to health workers, they said there was at that stage no evidence of increased hospitalisation or death among them. Yet hospitals report growing numbers of staff getting the virus and rising absenteeism.
The vast majority of Covid-19 patients among the general public in intensive care to date are unvaccinated or have had just one jab.
Well over 300,000 adults have still not completed their first two doses and most of these have had none. The unvaccinated continue to be the most vulnerable pool at risk of infection and getting seriously ill.
But around a quarter of patients in intensive care since April were fully vaccinated, the majority of whom had an underlying health condition.
Asked about progress in the current roll-out of boosters, the HSE said more than 73,000 immunocompromised people have been identified and 43,000 of these have been given a third dose. More than 155,000 booster shots have been given to people in older age groups.
Other countries are already ahead of Ireland in extending the groups who are eligible. In the UK this extends to people aged 50 and older.
The US has included people 18 years and older who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.
In Germany, a booster is offered four weeks after the Johnson & Johnson jab.
The HSE has plentiful stocks of vaccines – supply is not a problem.
Grappling with our conscience is the difficulty this time.