TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has urged young people in Ireland to get vaccinated against Covid-19 following a sharp rise in Delta variant cases.
The vaccine portal is now open to every adult aged 18 or over, and Government are hoping that the majority of young people will be fully vaccinated before the start of the academic year in September.
Martin said that HSE will soon be offering jabs to anyone aged between 16 and 18, as Ireland begins rolling out the vaccine to youngsters, a divisive move all over the world.
"I would appeal to the age cohorts who can register on the portal - please take up the opportunity of getting vaccinated," the Taoiseach said.
"We are registering for the 18 to 25-year-olds and shortly we will be opening for 16 to 18-year-olds. We would appeal to those age cohorts to take the opportunity of getting your vaccine.
"That will help us defeat this."
Vaccine hesitancy is highest among young people, with 12% of people aged 24-34 admitting that they won't take the vaccine.
Ireland's overall figure stands at just 6%, one of the lowest rates in Europe, but some experts believes that in order to achieve herd immunity, around 90-95% of the population must have resistance to the virus.
The Fianna Fáil leader described the vaccine as a "powerful weapon" against Covid-19, and stressed the importance of adapting quickly to problems the pandemic poses, and using everything within one's power to defeat the virus once and for all.
"We have been very agile throughout the pandemic. We've had to make different moves at different times," he said.
"On this occasion, it's different because we have people vaccinated. That is a powerful weapon.
"This is a new phase of the pandemic and in every phase we have to be agile enough to respond, people have to adhere to guidance and regulations.
"The ideal scenario is a continued rollout of the vaccination programme, combined with sensible, precautionary behaviour on all our part.
"That's where we can defeat this virus."