Taoiseach Micheal Martin has apologised to people who were turned away from vaccination centres in Dublin.
Walk-in centres at University College Dublin and Croke Park offering booster jabs hit capacity on Thursday morning, forcing the HSE to turn people away, and issue statements on social media advising others not to attend.
It came after Mr Martin claimed this week that the public did not have the same sense of “urgency” around boosters as they did during the initial vaccination rollout.
Speaking on Thursday, he said: “The first point I would make is of course, we don’t want any mix up or any inconvenience for people.
“We want to make vaccines as accessible to people as we possibly can.
“Now a million people have been vaccinated through the booster, that needs to be acknowledged
“There are many centres across the country, which were very busy today, but which were much calmer than the newer centre that was set up in UCD this morning.
“We don’t like to have to say to people it’s over-subscribed and having to turn away.
“We apologise to people who are in that position.”
Asked about his comments earlier in the week, he said: “I think the important point, the core point I was making in the Dail during the week was the booster really enhances your protection, not only against Delta, but against Omicron.
“It is the primary weapon we have and that people have in terms of protecting themselves against Covid.
“Covid levels are still high, and my point at the time was to encourage people.”
“I think there’s a clearer sense of people coming forward with urgency now in terms of getting that third booster” he added.
Mr Martin told the Dail on Tuesday in the week beginning November 22, 208,000 appointments were made, but about 80,000 people turned up to receive their booster shot.
Last week, 180,000 appointments were made, but 93,000 people turned up.
Mr Martin said the HSE has acknowledged there were “systems issues” in relation to the rollout in pharmacies, but he insisted the booster rollout is going well.
“If you look at the totality, pharmacies would have accounted for about 25,000 last week, that was the highest ever weekly for pharmacy” he said.
“So in the overall there’s a million vaccinated.”
Mr Martin also said the HSE will produce an operational plan for the rollout of vaccines to children, after the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) approved their use for five to 11 year-olds.