DIGITAL vaccine certificates may become a requirement for anyone looking to visit someone in hospital or in a nursing home amid a troubling recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Ireland.
A fifth wave of the virus looks imminent, and concerns are growing that Ireland's healthcare system may struggle to cope if measures aren't taken to reduce the spread.
There were 464 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Wednesday and 86 in intensive care - in increase of 14 in the previous 24 hours - and some experts fear that by November, over a thousand people could be hospitalised, with around 200 seriously ill in the ICU.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan hinted that vaccine passes, like the ones used to access indoor hospitality, could be used as a way to prevent the spread of the virus, insisting that implementing such a system "seems entirely sensible to me".
He said that if vaccine passes are required to get into nightclubs, then there's no reason why they shouldn't also be needed to visit hospitals and nursing homes, where patients are extremely vulnerable.
"It is in place in other countries," added the CMO, who also revealed the HSE were looking into how such a system might operate.
Dr Holohan said there was "no magic bullet" to escaping the current deterioration and said it came back to "individual commitment" and the need for people to put their “hearts and minds” into following basic Covid-19 safety rules.
Vaccination continues to be a major shield in protecting people with the virus from getting seriously ill, and vaccines have stopped around 1,700 possible deaths here since June, he said.
There is not an inevitability that the worst predictions around hospitalisations will happen, he added. There is still very good adherence by people to Covid measures, but it is "not quite enough", said Dr Holohan.