People in their 50s are not expected to receive their Covid-19 booster shots until the end of December or early January, HSE chief Paul Reid said today.
He said he expects to have completed the rollout to a large portion of vulnerable groups, including people in long stay facilities, the over-80s and people in their 70s by next month.
It is expected a large number of people in their sixties will also have got a booster by the end of next month although they will have to meet the five month timeline for being fully vaccinated, he told the Oireachtas Health Committee.
The vast proportion of healthcare workers are also expected to be completed next month.
Mr Reid said there will be a significant tail of people still to receive their boosters into the spring of next year because of the gap of at least five months needed between a second dose and a booster shot.
He said he expects to move through the 50s at the end of December or early January.
The HSE said it expects to increase its intensive care bed capacity to 350.These include 50 surge beds. However, modelling forecasts indicate around 400 Covid patients may need intensive care on Christmas week.
Earlier he said targets to reduce waiting lists for people who need surgery have been derailed as hospitals struggle to cope with Covid-19.
Mr Reid said the cancellation of surgeries and emergency patients have led to only a small reduction in inpatient and daycase waiting lists from 74,869 to 74,692, despite the drive being underway for nearly two months.
He said since the start of the waiting list initiative in October the number of outpatients waiting has reduced by 12,450 – from 653,524 to 641,074.
Those waiting for gastrointestinal scopes have reduced by 1,819 – from 32,001 to 30,182.
A significant focus is being placed on using private hospital capacity to deal with these waiting lists, he told the committee.
However, public hospitals are also relying on access to private hospitals to support emergency workload pressure.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland