South Korea begins COVID vaccination drive
SEOUL (SOUTH KOREA) – The South Korean government kickstarted its vaccination drive on Friday by administering shots to inmates of 200 nursing homes. This is the first step as part of returning to normal life.
Nursing home workers and patients were given the first doses of the AstraZeneca’s vaccine at 9 am (0000 GMT).
As many as 117,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE supplied through COVAX will be administered to 55,000 healthcare workers in coronavirus treatment facilities.
The national pharmaceutical panel requested the government on Friday to grant approval for that vaccine. But authorities will wait for a final review committee before taking a decision.
Some health experts are sceptical about the country’s ability to achieve its goal of inoculating 10 million high-risk people by July in a bid to achieve herd immunity.
The shots will be given to 5,266 nursing home staffers and patients in 213 facilities on Friday. Those in 292 nursing hospitals will be given the vaccines within five days, said the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Authorities have excluded people aged 65 and older from AstraZeneca’s vaccine as there is a lack of data regarding its efficacy in the elderly population.
By March, authorities hope to vaccinate at least 272,000 of the nursing home staffers and patients under 65. It hopes to give the second dose by May. In-house doctors will give the jabs to patients in nursing homes while doctors will be dispatched to care homes to give the shots.
President Moon Jae-in paid a visit to one of the vaccination centres in the capital and oversaw the process.