About one in 20 people who are testing positive for Covid-19 have been fully vaccinated as the Delta variant starts to rage.
Niamh O’Beirne, the HSE’s national lead for testing and tracing, said around 5pc of positive cases had had two jabs across different vaccines.
However, full vaccination provides greater protection from getting very sick from the virus.
It comes as the health service has been shocked by the rapid rise in new cases, fuelled by the Delta variant, which soared to 994 yesterday.
There has been a big increase in the number of patients with the virus in hospital, although the impact of vaccination is being seen in the lower numbers needing specialised care versus the level of infections.
Hospitals had 80 patients with Covid-19 in wards yesterday, including 22 in intensive care.
HSE chief Paul Reid admitted it would be late August or early September before 80pc of the adult population would be fully vaccinated.
This is still not fast enough to outpace the escalating spread of the Delta variant, which poses a particular risk to people who are unvaccinated or have had only one jab.
There were three children in Crumlin Hospital in Dublin yesterday with suspected Covid-19. It comes as the registration for a Covid-19 vaccine for the 25 to 29-year age group opens today with the aim of giving them a first jab in three to four weeks.
On Monday, people aged 18 to 24 will be invited to register for an AstraZeneca vaccine, although they can wait until later if they want a Pfizer or Moderna jab.
By the middle of this week, 4.9 million vaccines had been administered.
Around 2.7 million people have received a first dose in here, equivalent to 73pc of adults, and 2.2 million, or 59pc, are fully vaccinated. This excludes 74,000 people vaccinated by pharmacists.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “More than 70pc of the adult population have had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and almost 60pc of adults are now fully vaccinated.
“This is, of course, good news and a great cause for hope. However, there is still a significant cohort of the population who are not yet fully vaccinated, or as is the case with children, for whom vaccination is still a little way off and subject to future guidance.
“People who are unvaccinated, including children, should continue to avoid high-risk, uncontrolled indoor settings.
“That includes indoor hospitality. I know this is a difficult message for people, particularly parents of unvaccinated children, but if we stick with the public health measures, we can limit transmission of this disease and protect others.
“We continue to keep all of the public health guidance under review.
“That includes all elements of the further reopening of society and looking forward to September and a return to education for students.
“In the meantime, avoid crowds, wear a mask, manage your contacts, keep your distance, meet outdoors where possible, and, if indoors, en- sure that the room is well ventilated.”
There is now a strong possibility that some hospitals will have to postpone non-Covid procedures in the coming weeks if the number of admissions from patients sick with the virus rises significantly.
Covid-19 testing services are being increased and there are plans to use antigen tests on close contacts where they would be asked to do four tests. There are also plans to use laboratories abroad if needed.
Some areas of the country are now experiencing positivity rates of 15pc.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland