Half of Ireland’s adult population will have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of Monday, the Health Minister has said.
More than 4.3 million coronavirus jabs have been administered to date, with 49.6% of adults fully vaccinated.
Some 67% of adults have received their first dose.
Stephen Donnelly tweeted: “By the end of today half our adult population will have full vaccination.
“This will continue to grow in the days and weeks ahead.
“It’s important that everyone continues to ensure they get their second dose.”
It came as the country’s vaccination programme took a significant step forward, with those aged between 18 and 34 able to receive the one-shot Janssen jab from Monday.
Some 800 pharmacies across the country have begun rolling out vaccines to those in the younger age group.
Mr Donnelly confirmed that people aged 18 to 34 can receive their coronavirus vaccination up to two months early under the accelerated programme.
It follows updated advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) that the AstraZeneca and Janssen (also known as Johnson & Johnson) vaccines can be given to people under 40.
People aged 18 to 34 can now “opt in” for one of those jabs, or choose to wait for an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna.
Health Service Executive (HSE) boss Paul Reid said 343,000 vaccines were administered last week.
“Over 49% of adults now fully vaccinated,” he said in a tweet.
“Every day, more people are protected.
“Pharmacies play a key role this week also, in administering available Janssen vaccines to those aged 18-34 who ‘opt in’ for this one.”
Representatives from the hospitality industry will hold a meeting with Government officials about the reopening of the sector on Monday afternoon.
Under earlier plans, indoor dining had been due to reopen on Monday; however, it was delayed following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) amid concerns about the Delta variant, first identified in India.
Hospitality representatives wanted members of Nphet to be included in the talks, but Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, was told they would not be attending Monday’s meeting.
He said: “Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Minister Stephen Donnelly must instruct Nphet to attend – negotiations need swift and accurate decisions in order to restart indoor hospitality as soon as possible.”
In a statement, the Restaurants Association of Ireland said it will enter the talks with Government officials with a business-like approach.
“We will be seeking a workable, viable and authentic plan to reopen restaurants, pubs and cafes from the 19th July in line with the resumption of international travel,” the statement added.
“We expect all relevant departments to be presenting, including Departments of Taoiseach, Enterprise, Health, Justice, Tourism and EGovernment.
“It is critical we have a plan in place a week ahead of reopening international travel on July 19 in order for businesses to prepare to reopen as international tourists enter the state.
“The Restaurants Association of Ireland is willing to work night and day and we hope this is reciprocated on the Government side.”
The discussion will focus on the Government’s decision to bring in Nphet-recommended plans to allow only the fully vaccinated or those who have immunity from Covid after contracting the virus to dine indoors.
A plan is to be in place by July 19, although a date for reopening has yet to be confirmed.
A number of restrictions have been eased from Monday, including an increase in the number of people permitted to attend outdoor events.
Venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 can let 500 people in.
The number of guests allowed to attend a wedding has also increased to 50.
People who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the disease can also meet in private homes with no limit on numbers.