DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland's unvaccinated population is "causing a lot of trouble," Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has told CNN.
Varadkar's comments follows the government tightening Covid-19 restrictions on November 17, due to a rise in new cases.
Earlier, Varadkar was upbeat about Ireland avoiding a fourth lockdown, as the country has one of the highest percentages of vaccinations in the world.
"Things were going so well," Varadkar told CNN. "As a nation, we're a little bit crestfallen, a little bit heartbroken" about reintroducing restrictions.
He noted that some 94 percent of all Irish adults are fully vaccinated.
"Unfortunately, the five percent that are not are causing a lot of the trouble.
"About five percent are not fully vaccinated, but about fifty percent of people in hospital and ICU are not fully vaccinated, so even that five percent can create a lot of difficulty," he said.
Ireland reintroduced earlier closing times for the nation's pubs and restaurants this week, in a bid to slow the rising Covid infection rate.
Additionally, Varadkar noted the evidence of diminishing immunity among the vaccinated.
"We're providing what I'm now calling 'the third dose'", he said. "I think this is going to be a three-dose vaccine.
"I'd really encourage anyone who's not vaccinated to still come forward and do so. And that is happening, we are actually now seeing an increase in people who had shied away from getting vaccinated up until now, now coming forward, and that's a positive," he said.