The one millionth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered in the State on Thursday, chief of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Paul Reid has said.
Almost 19 per cent of the eligible population will have received their first dose while 8 per cent will have received their second dose, Mr Reid said on Twitter.
He said 98 per cent of vaccines delivered to the State this week were administered within the same week and that the “future is brighter”.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen to 220, with 54 of those in intensive care (ICU), according to the latest figures from the HSE.
The Mater Hospital in Dublin has 27 Covid-19 cases, the highest number in the country, followed by Beaumont Hospital (25) and Tallaght Hospital (25).
A further five deaths from Covid-19 as well as 423 new confirmed cases of the virus were reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said mandatory hotel quarantine would be extended to other countries once legal challenges and capacity requirements were met.
He said the Government was “at one” on the need to respond to the advice of public health experts to keep variants of Covid-19 out of Ireland.
There had been many meetings between the Departments of Health, Justice, Transport and Foreign Affairs on the extension of the number of countries for whom mandatory quarantine would be necessary, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
The leak of the extended list of countries before plans were ready was “unfortunate,” he added. Mr Coveney said the Government needed to ensure that there would be capacity to deal with the significant issues that would arise “before we announced the list of countries”.
Dr Mary Favier, former president of the Irish College of General Practitioners and member of the National Public Health Emergency Team, has encouraged anyone due to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine to keep their appointment as the risk of blood clots was “truly tiny” compared to the risks from Covid-19.
It comes after the European medicines regulator said unusual blood clots were “a very rare” side effect of the drug and several countries in the European Union and the UK restricted its use.
Dr Favier said, however, that the risk of clots from a long-haul flight were “way higher”. “We balance those risks,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
The National Immunization Advisory Committee will meet to review the issue, she said, but “hands down” it was safer to take the vaccine than risk Covid.
There was “a remote possibility” that AstraZeneca would not be approved for young women at a later stage, she said. However, by the time that cohort would be eligible for vaccination in Ireland, it would be late summer and much more would be known, she said.
Dr Favier also expressed disappointment that people in positions of leadership had taken the Covid-19 vaccine out of sequence.
When asked about the case of directors at the Master Hospital receiving the vaccine, Dr Favier said she did not know details of the specific cases, but that it was “very disappointing”. People in positions of leadership needed to show that they believed in the system of prioritization, she said.