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Need for Covid pass to get into nightclubs, restaurants and pubs ‘behind rise in vaccination demand’

The extension of the Covid pass to gain entry to pubs, restaurants and nightclubs may be behind an increase in vaccine sceptics now looking for a Covid-19 jab this week.

he HSE yesterday revealed it normally gets around 1,000 people a day coming forward for a first dose but on Thursday this jumped to 2,500.

It followed the Government decision to continue to demand the Covid pass for entry to pubs and restaurants and other entertainment venues.

There are now signs it could be demanded on a wider scale including visits to patients in hospital or to residents of nursing homes.

The power of the pass – as an incentive to enjoy the rewards of vaccination – now looks set to be part of the HSE’s new drive to get the large pool of unvaccinated adults to sign up for a jab.

It is set to launch a Halloween vaccination campaign on various fronts this weekend – extending even to ads on bus shelters – to try to persuade the less-than-10pc of eligible people left for a vaccine to come forward.

The HSE said yesterday that 92.4pc of adults were fully vaccinated. In the population over 12, the vaccination level is 89.9pc.

Damien McCallion, who oversees the HSE vaccination roll-out, said they would be embarking on a Halloween Covid-19 vaccination campaign to reach out to different groups who had not availed of a jab so far.

This will involve extra pharmacy and walk-in vaccination centres in areas of lower uptake.

There will be advice in different languages and facts and evidence from experts on concerns people might have around vaccination in pregnancy and fertility.

It comes as figures show that of recent admissions to intensive care 52pc were not vaccinated, 41pc were fully vaccinated and 5pc had one dose.

Around 350,000 people eligible for a vaccine are still unvaccinated including one in five 18- to 30-year-olds an 40pc of 12- to 15-year-olds.

A HSE briefing was told yesterday that none of the pregnant women admitted to intensive care with Covid-19 during the summer and early autumn were fully vaccinated.

One of the women had one dose but the others were unvaccinated.

The figures for intensive care admissions for pregnant women with Covid-19 related to the period between June 27 and early October.

It comes as the HSE said that from November 1 all maternity hospitals and units can provide access for nominated support partners to access inpatient areas during the normal visiting hours of 8am to 9pm.

HSE head of infection control Martin Cormican said the HSE looked at the experience of two maternity hospitals managing greater access for nominated support partners in all inpatient areas including multi-bed rooms.

Head of testing and tracing Niamh O’Beirne said the positivity rate for those seeking testing was now 9.6pc.

But it is as high as 19pc in Kerry and is at 17-18pc in Waterford. Other badly hit counties are Carlow and Longford. The increase is seen in all ages. More older people are testing positive and a majority now have symptoms and can feel sick with the virus.

She said there were no plans to reintroduce testing and tracing of close contacts in primary schools.

From the end of next week, people who are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms who are a close contact of a confirmed case will be sent a pack of five antigen tests to their home.

They will now use four and test themselves every second day.

The roll-out of Covid-19 booster shots to people in their 60s and 70s will start shortly.

Meanwhile, an interim report yesterday said rapid antigen testing could play an important role in Covid-19 testing as the country opens up if it is tailored to different settings.

The interim report, commissioned by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, comes from the Expert Advisory Group on Rapid Testing, chaired by Prof Mary Horgan. However, it said that public understanding was low of how, where and why a rapid antigen test be used to find out if someone has Covid-19.

Fewer than half knew that a rapid antigen test was less accurate than a standard PCR test at detecting whether a person has Covid-19.

It said there was a need to provide better communication to the public on how the tests work.

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