Up to half the people with appointments for Covid-19 booster shots in some vaccinations centres are not showing up as the Covid-19 crisis worsens with significant cancellation of surgeries due in hospitals, HSE chief Paul Reid warned today.
e said vaccination booster shot “no shows” can range from 25pc to 50pc.
Mr Reid said :”The more people who show up for their booster the less we will see in hospital.”
It comes as he confirmed he has written to all the major acute hospitals in the country telling managers they can cancel surgeries and other procedures if they assess the Covid-19 pressures leave them with no other choice.
There were 643 Covid-19 patients in hospital today including 118 in intensive care.
Unvaccinated patients are occupying one in five intensive care beds.
Mr Reid said the system is under severe strain and in his letter to the managers of Model 4 hospitals, the largest in the country, he said they need to focus on Covid and time-sensitive non Covid care,
The hospitals will create surge temporary intensive care beds but this will mean taking staff from other parts of the hospital which will lead to a curtailment of services.
The HSE plans to send more non Covid public patients to private hospitals and increase the number of beds used a week from around 1,100 to nearly 3,000 as part of its safety net deal.
Ann O Connor HSE chief operations officer said a typical Model 4 hospital would have 100 planned inpatient and day case surgeries and procedures a day, including chemotherapy.
If all elective activity was cancelled, except for cancer and time critical cases, there would be a 65pc cut in activity.
Mr Reid said ;”The situation is at its highest level of impact and risk ” since the start of the pandemic.
Although the numbers of patients in hospital in January were higher the country was in lockdown, he added.
Around 54pc of Covid-19 patients in intensive care are not vaccinated, 1pc are partially vaccinated and 45pc are fully vaccinated.
The HSE’s Covid-19 testing service is under record pressure and in the last seven days they tested around 200,000 lab samples.
It is now buying in some services from private testing companies based in airports and members of the army are also now involved in swabbing.
Damien McCallion who oversees vaccination said he expected the 161,000 over 80s to have had thier booster shots this month.
The 336,000 people aged 70 to 79 will be boosted at the end of this month.
However many of the 60-69 year age group will still not be vaccinated at the end of December because of the delay in giving them a second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and the need for at least a five month gap before they get the booster.
He said the aim is to have the majority of this group either vaccinated or given an appointment by the end of December.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland