Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid has said Ireland's vaccination programme is a "great example" to the rest of Europe.

Speaking at the HSE's weekly Covid-19 update, Mr Reid said the "pace of vaccine rollout has given us a path to some level of normality where we can rebuild the society and the economy".

He said the HSE's vaccination operating model "has proven to be agile" as he added that "it has been changed 32 times based on policy decisions".

Mr Reid said 71% of adults are now fully vaccinated, and 86% are partially vaccinated.

As of this morning, there were 160 patients with Covid-19 in hospital, with 26 in ICU.

Mr Reid the number of people being treated in hospital for Covid-19 is up 60% on this day last week.

He said the number of people in ICU has increased by 18% in the same period.

He said: "The majority of cases in hospital are there because they contracted Covid. A smaller number may have acquired it in hospital. An even smaller number may be in for other reasons but test positive in hospital."

Mr Reid said every Covid patient has a "disproportionate effect" on the health system.

"All of them have to be isolated to prevent spread. Staff precautions need to be taken, elective care is impacted. Isolation capacity is limited with ageing infrastructure."

Read more:
Latest Covid-19 stories

HSE Chief Clinical lead Dr Colm Henry said there are "early signs" that the five-day moving average is "plateauing", but he said it is "too early to say that for certain".

Dr Henry said the five-day moving average is 1,264 and the 14-day average is 338 per 100,000.

He said: "Last week we were worried that we would be reaching 2,000 cases per day this week. That doesn't appear likely now."

Dr Henry said the "floodwall is holding" but he said "it has broken a little" as there are have been five outbreaks in acute hospitals.

He said more than three quarters of the cases of Covid-19 in the past two weeks are among people aged under 35.

He said "almost eight out of 10 admissions" to ICU over the past three months have been among the unvaccinated population.

Dr Henry said of those admitted to ICU who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, 87% have had an underlying condition.

Mr Reid said the HSE has provided the information for 97% of those who are fully vaccinated to the Government for the purpose of getting a Digital Covid Cert.

He said emails bouncing back and incorrect postal addresses have caused issues for people receiving their certs.

Mr Reid also said that community pharmacies and GPs will "play a key role" in the administration of booster vaccines and that "vaccine centres possibly might have a role".

The HSE's Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said the HSE are "working with maternity hospitals who are still not compliant" in their facilitation of access for partners.

Dr Henry said he is "hopeful of compliance in the coming week".

In relation to a question about frontline healthcare workers who have refused a vaccine, the HSE's CEO Paul Reid said: "There have been occasions where teams have gone through a health risk assessment and moved people into different roles."

He described them as a "small number".

National Lead for Testing and Tracing with the HSE Niamh O'Beirne said positivity rates for Covid-19 are rising across testing sites.

She said the positivity rate is currently at 11.7%, but some sites are seeing positivity levels of more than 21%.

She said there are a number of particularly busy sites, notably in Donegal, Louth, Meath, and Monaghan.

Ms O'Beirne said the HSE is still doing studies on antigen testing for various age groups and in various sectors.

Walk-in vaccination centres this weekend

The HSE has said a particular aim of walk-in vaccination centres operating this weekend will be to allow those who may be holidaying around the country to avail of a first dose at a location near to them.

The vaccine is being offered to anyone over the age of 16 who is not yet vaccinated.

In a statement, the Executive's National Director for the vaccine programme Damien McCallion said they want to make sure getting the vaccine is "as easy and convenient for people as possible".

"In particular, when people might be holidaying in Ireland over the long weekend, they can still avail of the vaccine at a location that is convenient for them.

"People's second doses can then be scheduled for a location near their home."