DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland, one of the world's most vaccinated nations, will make COVID-19 booster shots available to all adults in a sharp ramping up of plans to provide additional protection, the health minister said on Friday.
Almost 90% of Ireland's eligible 3.9 million people over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated and booster shots had previously been approved for those over the age of 50 and for those with underlying health issues.
Some 670,000 boosters have been administered to date.
"We continue to prioritise boosters because we know they are having a positive impact on the level of hospitalisation, severe illness and mortality from COVID-19 in those aged over 70," Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said in a statement.
Like most of Europe, Ireland is battling a fresh wave of the virus which ministers have said may be plateauing at a high level. Hospitalisations have also stabilised over the last week but intensive care capacity remains very tight.
The government reimposed a midnight curfew on hospitality venues last week, less than a month after nightclubs were allowed to open their doors for the first time since March 2020.
Ministers have said that while some additional restrictions may be needed over the coming weeks, they do not envisage following Austria's example of reimposing a lockdown.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Giles Elgood)