From Covid-19 booster vaccines to the new variant Omicron, here are five things we learned from the latest briefing by the Health Service Executive:

Over 880,000 booster doses administered

The HSE briefing heard that Ireland is in the top five of European Union countries that is administering Covid-19 booster or third dose vaccines per head of population.

The organisation's Chief Executive, Paul Reid, said that so far more than 880,000 such doses have been administered to date.

He also said that there is a continuing presentation of first and second doses of the vaccines.

6.5% of adults not fully vaccinated - Reid

Paul Reid told the briefing that around 6.5% of the adult population are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

He said that 48% of Covid patients in hospitals are partially vaccinated, and 50% of people with Covid being treated in intensive care units have had no vaccine.

"In the age group of 19 to 40 years of age Covid patients in hospital, 79% are not fully vaccinated," he said.

"These are really high disproportionate impacts on our health system by not being vaccinated."

Mr Reid urged people who have not had a vaccination to register for one.

'Sharp drop' in Covid hospitalisations of older age groups

The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer said there are a falling number of Covid-19 cases in the older age groups which have received their Covid-19 booster vaccine.

Dr Colm Henry said there has been a sharp drop in hospitalisations of people in older age groups.

"We know from the Israeli studies, the booster vaccine led to a sharp drop in hospitalisations in those who received the booster vaccine, which should give us a great cause for hope, especially as we get right through those critical groups," he said.

No evidence yet Omicron more severe - Henry

Dr Colm Henry told the briefing there is no evidence yet which suggests that the new Covid-19 variant is more severe.

He said that it will take time to find that out, as well as the effectiveness of the vaccine against Omicron.

Dr Henry said that the wide view is that PCR tests continue to detect infection of the variant.

HSE launches bereavement initiative

The briefing heard of a new initiative which was launched to support people through bereavement.

Chief Operations Officer, Anne O'Connor, said that Covid "has hugely disrupted people's ability to respond to bereavement and unfortunately, people's ability to grieve in a normal way".

She said that there is a new "grief section" on the HSE website and people will be able to find information there.

Ms O’Connor said that this work is important because in the last 18 months in Ireland, there have been approximately 45,000 deaths "for all sorts of reasons, just normal deaths across the board".

This equates with approximately 400,000 people having been impacted by bereavement in that time period.

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