Q Radio News/PA
Ireland’s chief medical officer has praised the country’s “exceptionally” high level of vaccine uptake, describing it as the envy of the world.
The vaccine programme hit a milestone at the weekend, with more than 90% of people over the age of 16 now fully vaccinated.
Dr Tony Holohan said the high number was almost “unprecedented”.
In a statement, issued as further restrictions are lifted, Dr Holohan said it was heartening to see the high levels of vaccine uptake among all cohorts.
He said the last 18 months has seen a “considerable burden” placed on individuals, communities, and society as a whole.
He thanked the public for their solidarity.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, and the necessary public health measures introduced to protect all of us from the worst impacts of this virus have had a disproportionate impact on our older people,” Dr Holohan added.
“I am particularly mindful that, as we move into the autumn/winter period and prepare for the dark evenings and cooler weather these seasons bring, many older people have concerns about how we can all continue to socialise safely and take part in the social and physical activities that keep us connected to our friends, families and wider communities.
“Ireland’s exceptionally, almost unprecedentedly, high level of vaccination is the envy of our neighbours across the European Union and indeed, across the world.
“It is heartening to see the high levels of vaccine uptake among all cohorts, but particularly among our over-65s.
“In fact, the Department of Health’s most recent Amarach research shows that 96% of respondents aged 55 years and older state that they are fully protected through vaccination.”
He added that vaccination remains the best means of protection against Covid-19.
“There are still some people who haven’t yet taken up the opportunity of vaccination, or who have delayed receiving a second dose for various reasons,” he added.
“I strongly encourage anyone who is in this position to ensure they get fully vaccinated as soon as possible in order to best protect themselves and those around them.”
The public health official said that vaccines helps drive down incidence of Covid-19, and urged people to continue following health measures as further restrictions are lifted.
“As we move into this next phase of the pandemic, the most important action to take is – if you display symptoms of Covid-19 like cough, fever, headache, sore throat and blocked or runny nose – isolate and contact your GP who will advise if you need to arrange a test,” he added.