Dr Catherine Motherway, an intensive care consultant at University Hospital Limerick, said half of the patients treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) during the current wave have been younger than 54.
It comes after the Department of Health said 70 per cent of Covid-19 patients in intensive care have not been fully vaccinated.
“The age groups that are being seen and have been admitted in the latest surge have ranged from 17 to the age of 88 into our ICUs,” Dr Motherway told Newstalk radio.
“So we’re seeing people in their late teens really sick in intensive care units around this country.
“We’re seeing younger people – we know that half of the patients in the current surge that have come into ICU are under the age of 54 and I consider 54 very young.”
Dr Motherway said a high proportion of those in intensive care with Covid-19 are unvaccinated.
“The situation in University Hospital Limerick is similar to the national picture – we’re seeing a very significant number of our patients are unvaccinated, particularly in the younger age groups,” she said.
“And obviously we are seeing some breakthrough infections, mirroring the national situation, particularly in the older patient population and people with significant underlying conditions that tend to affect their immune system.”
On Tuesday, the country’s deputy chief medical officer expressed concern about rising numbers of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospital.
Dr Ronan Glynn said recent days have seen increasing numbers admitted to hospital and intensive care, with around 70 per cent of patients in intensive care for Covid-19 not fully vaccinated.
“This is a significant cause for concern,” he said.
I strongly encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to take up the opportunity to do so as soon as possible
“Vaccination, along with our continuing adherence to the public health advice, will break the chains of transmission and drive down incidence of Covid-19 in our communities.
“If you display any symptoms of Covid-19, including a high temperature, dry cough, or flu-like symptoms, please stay at home. Do not go to work, school, college or socialise.
“I strongly encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to take up the opportunity to do so as soon as possible to best protect yourself and those around you from Covid-19.
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“I also urge anyone who is eligible for a flu vaccine to come forward and receive it as soon as it is offered to you. You can arrange an appointment to receive your flu vaccine via your GP or local pharmacy.
“Continue to regularly wash hands, wear a mask when appropriate – particularly in retail settings, on public transport and in healthcare settings – keep your distance, open windows and ventilate indoor spaces, and choose outdoors where possible for meeting others.
“This suite of measures will help stop the transmission of Covid-19, seasonal influenza, common colds and other respiratory illnesses that are more prevalent over the winter months.”
A further 1,466 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland on Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, there were 402 Covid-positive patients in hospital, with 73 in intensive care.