At today's briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), health officials said that they were confident of a high uptake among parents for vaccination of children.

A further 1,408 new cases of the virus has been reported by the Department of Health.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that Ireland’s high level of vaccination provided grounds for optimism.

Here are five takeaways from the briefing:

Hospital admissions 'significantly up'

The Chair of NPHET’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said that hospital admissions are at 26 per day - almost double what it was two weeks ago.

Professor Philip Nolan told the briefing: "In all of the other indicators of disease, we are seeing a trend upwards. On average, 124 people in hospital over the last seven days and significantly the admissions number where we are seeing on average 26 people being admitted to hospital per day over the last seven days - 30 today.

"You can see that that is very significantly up, pretty much double what it was two weeks ago."

Prof Nolan said there are half the number of Covid-19 cases in hospitals as there were in October. However, he said that there are more admissions now.

He also said that the length of stay in hospitals has shortened from 15 days across the whole pandemic, down to seven days in May and June.

'A disease of younger people'

The briefing heard that that the disease is growing and that the growth rate peaked at 10% per day and is now at around 4% per day, meaning case numbers could double in 17 days.

Prof Nolan said coronavirus is mostly a disease of young, unvaccinated people.

"This is, at the moment, is very much a disease of younger people," he said.

Prof Nolan told the NPHET briefing that the incidence of coronavirus is "dominated" by those aged 19-24, followed by people aged 13-18 and then by those aged 25-34.

Ireland in a 'strong position' because of vaccines - Holohan

The Chief Medical Officer said that Ireland's high uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations could mean a further relaxation of restrictions.

Dr Tony Holohan said that there are still a significant number of restrictions in place but the "progress we're making in relation to vaccines is putting us in a strong position".

When asked when these restrictions could be eased, he said: "If we keep progress going, the day may not be far away".

"The more people vaccinated in this country, the less opportunity Covid-19 has to inflict severe illness and disruption on us. If you are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination and have yet to register, please do so as soon as possible," he said.

Parents urged to avail of Covid-19 vaccine

The Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee recommended that parents of any child with an underlying medical condition should avail of a Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest opportunity.

"If you have a child with an underlying medical condition, absolutely avail of it at the earliest opportunity. If you have a child, for example, that is living in a household where there are other people at risk, absolutely avail of it at the earliest opportunity," Professor Karina Butler said.

She said that vaccination is primarily for benefit of children themselves. She told the briefing that the benefits outweigh the risks, but parents are entitled to make their own decision.

Prof Butler also said that the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in young people has really been "quite remarkable".

Warning over misinformation

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer has warned parents of misinformation on social media around vaccinating children.

Dr Ronan Glynn said it is important that parents do not assume that everything they see on social media is accurate.

He advised parents not to share anything on social media or messaging groups unless the data is verified and found from multiple, different reputable sources.

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