The Department of Health is still considering a recommendation from the Health Service Executive on proposed changes to the vaccination programme.

Following a review of the overall programme, the HSE has advised that it should continue immunising older people first, and that there should be no break in the age-based vaccination plan.

It means that younger people will not be vaccinated earlier than planned and vaccinating different age groups in parallel is not envisaged at this stage.

The plan would allow the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines to be used in those under 50, in certain circumstances, if no other vaccine was available.

The HSE's revised plan was submitted to the Department of Health yesterday evening.

There was a general discussion about the recommendation at a Cabinet meeting this afternoon but Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly did not bring a revised protocol for decision.

The HSE has also said it expects to vaccinate between 220,000 and 240,000 people this week.

As of Sunday 2 May there were 1,604,644 vaccine doses administered. 1,159,083 people have received their first dose, and 445,561 of these people have also received a second dose.

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Meanwhile, registration for Covid-19 vaccinations for people aged in their 50s is open from today.

Those aged 59 are the first to be invited to register on the Health Service Executive's online portal.

Over the next 10 days, people aged 50 to 59 can register.

The HSE said a PPSN, Eircode, mobile number and email address is needed to register on its portal.

Separately, as part of the Government's plan to ease restrictions all construction activity restarted this morning along with other outdoor work, such as window cleaning or maintenance.

Construction workers resumed work on residential, early-learning and childcare sites on 12 April.

Elsewhere, the Cabinet has backed a new European Union agreement reached with Pfizer-BioNtech for its Covid-19 vaccine.

Under the terms, Ireland will receive 4.9m doses in 2022; and the same again in 2023.

There is a provision to secure twice as much, over both years, if required.

Meanwhile, there has been a rise in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in hospitals.

Latest figures show there are 144 patients with the disease in hospital, compared with 129 yesterday.

40 of the patients are in intensive care, which is the same number as yesterday.

In Northern Ireland, 83 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the past 24 hours. No further deaths were reported.

There are 62 confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospital, with seven in ICU, five of whom are on ventilators.

The average seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 is 33.6. The area with highest rate is Derry and Strabane on 102.9, while the lowest remains Ards and North Down on 4.4.