Ministers will press for partial easing of Covid-19 restrictions next week, which could see vaccination passports remain in effect as a requirement to enter venues and facilities.
There are growing concerns in government and among public health officials about the rising number of Covid-19 cases and the high number of patients in hospitals.
While no decision has yet been made on the next phase of the reopening on October 22, senior sources acknowledged that some measures could be paused if the situation continues to deteriorate.
One recommendation is to remove some restrictions while maintaining the requirement to show proof of vaccination before entering a job.
The government will watch the data closely this weekend before making a final decision next Monday or Tuesday.
Total doses distributed to Ireland
Total doses administered in Ireland
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (Niac) will also meet in the coming days to discuss a possible vaccination campaign. There is growing impatience in the Government at the pace of these negotiations, as some Ministers believe it is imperative that the support campaign be extended as early as possible. One option is to roll out rollouts in descending order across age groups.
But many healthcare professionals say there isn’t enough evidence to support the mass introduction of booster vaccines.
“We must weigh additional doses of vaccines extremely carefully,” said Prof Mary Keogan, of Beaumont Hospital, at a symposium at the Royal Irish College of Physicians on Thursday.
“We know that two doses of vaccine protect against serious diseases in the vast majority of the population. We don’t know if a three-dose schedule will improve the responsiveness or durability of the protection we get.”
“At a time when most of the world is without vaccines, we really can’t afford that luxury,” Professor Keogan said, adding that “we must be aware of our responsibility to use this precious resource prudently.” was unvaccinated.
Regarding the potential relaxation of restrictions on October 22, a Government source said there may be a “middle ground” to loosening some restrictions, but not all, which may involve opening up only to those who have been fully vaccinated and recovered. There is a feeling this may encourage more people to get vaccinated or to get their second vaccination if they haven’t been vaccinated.
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris suggested on Thursday that the digital Covid certification be extended after October 22 as a safer way to fully reopen society.
There are fears in government that some indoor hospitality venues are no longer enforcing the requirement for Covid certificates for entry, as well as a broader perception that compliance with Covid regulations and recommendations is beginning to wane. In this context, there is considerable discomfort in the government about the reopening of nightclubs and the return of late opening hours of bars.
With 1,627 confirmed cases on Thursday, there are fears of weakened immunity, particularly among people who have not returned to receive their second dose of the vaccine. Authorities believe that some people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine during the first months of the program, including some healthcare professionals, did not receive a second dose.