Taoiseach will await advice from Niac on fourth dose of Covid

The Taoiseach said it would await advice from the National Immunization Advisory Committee (Niac) on whether people should receive a fourth Covid vaccine.

Micheal Martin said a second booster would be ‘the key weapon’ in the fight against Covid during the autumn period.

The Fianna Fail leader said Ireland was going through a disruptive phase of Covid.

He made the comments as the country sees a steady rise in the number of people hospitalized with the virus.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, there were 885 people hospitalized with Covid-19.

There were 33 people in intensive care with Covid-19.

Mr Martin said that of the 885 people hospitalized, half would have been for a different reason.

“That then impacts hospital services in terms of isolation protocols and in terms of delayed discharges from hospitals, the inability of nursing homes to accommodate hospitalized people as quickly or as normally as they would,” he added.

“Equally in the workplace we can see with Aer Lingus and the airlines where people are sick with Covid and that has led to flights being cancelled.

“So it is a concern, that it remains a significant disruptive force in our society and in our community.

“What we also know is that the variants aren’t as virulent as they used to be, and that’s a good thing.

“What I would really say to people is that we know when we came out of the emergency phase of Covid was when we had critical mass vaccinations in people’s arms.

“So, for example, a number of immunocompromised people are still not taking their second booster and they should be. We will wait for Niac’s opinion on the fall period and whether a fourth dose is necessary, or a second booster.

“I think it would be the key weapon in the fight against Covid for the autumn period.

“We have to watch because different variants are emerging at different times. The virus is still with us.

“We have sub-variants emerging, and they will have distinct characteristics and we have to trust the science and keep the science on top.

“I can’t predict with certainty what’s going to happen because all I can predict is uncertainty.

“I think that’s why we make sure we have legislation, that if we were to bring back mask mandates for public transport, or even for retail, we would be able to do it quickly.

“But again, we think we’re out of the emergency phase, all public health advice goes through vaccination and through personal responsibility and the people who care.”

It comes as Dr Nuala O’Connor, Covid-19 lead at the Irish College of General Practitioners, said people with symptoms should not go to work and should not send their children to summer camps.

She warned of an increase in cases after social events, including weddings and funerals.

“These are the first symptoms you have when you’re most contagious,” Dr O’Connor told RTE.

“Please think of others who may be more vulnerable and stay home.”