S. Korea to begin vaccinating elderly generation

Posted on : 2021-03-16 17:29 KST Modified on : 2021-03-16 17:29 KST
Seoul aims to vaccinate 12 million people by June
A citizen receives instructions from a health worker after receiving the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine Monday at the Bomnae Gymnasium in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap News)
A citizen receives instructions from a health worker after receiving the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine Monday at the Bomnae Gymnasium in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap News)

South Korea will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to the general elderly population in April. This will proceed in two stages: first priority will be given to those aged 75 and above, and then vaccination will be opened up to those aged 65-74.

Seoul intends to inoculate a total of 12 million people in the first half of 2021, including dialysis patients and other people with chronic conditions, nurses at special-needs nurseries and schools and essential workers.

The government task force responsible for organizing the COVID-19 vaccination campaign announced Monday its vaccination plan for the second quarter (Q2) of the year, which will begin in April.

“We’ve prepared the plan for the second quarter based on the recently elaborated vaccine supply schedule, the status of vaccinations in February and March, and the vaccination priorities announced on Jan. 28. Our plan was finalized following a review by the vaccination advisory panel on March 10,” a task force spokesperson said.

Six categories of people will be eligible for vaccinations in Q2: 1) residents and workers at nursing homes, 2) residents and workers at facilities that are vulnerable to COVID-19, 3) people aged 65 and above, 4) workers at schools and care centers, 5) patients with chronic conditions, and 6) public health care workers and essential workers.

“The second stage of vaccination is designed to serve as a bridge between the first stage in February and March, which targeted workers and residents at nursing homes under the age of 65 and medical workers treating COVID-19 patients, and the third stage, which begins in July,” the task force explained.

At nursing homes, inoculation of residents and workers below the age of 65 began on Feb. 26. Those aged 65 and above will become eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the fourth week of March. Inoculation of around 670,000 staff and residents at shelters for the elderly, the homeless, and people with disabilities is scheduled to be completed in Q2.

Those aged 65 and above who aren’t in group homes will also be inoculated in Q2. The government is rushing to inoculate elderly people because they’re at an elevated risk of developing a serious or fatal case of COVID-19.

The government announced that it will inoculate the elderly in two stages, based on their age. In the first week of April, people aged 75 and above (about 3.64 million people) will begin receiving the Pfizer vaccine at local vaccination centers. Then in June, people aged 65-74 (about 4.94 million people) will begin receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine at more than 10,000 government-approved sites around the country, including local clinics.

Vaccinations will also be administered to staff at schools and care centers. In April, inoculations will begin for 51,000 workers at special-needs schools and daycare centers and 13,000 nurses at schools, kindergartens, and daycare centers. Then in June, inoculations will be phased in for 491,000 teachers and other workers at daycare centers, kindergartens, and elementary schools, including first- and second-grade homeroom teachers.

Airline flight attendants, who have been exempted from self-quarantine rules despite their frequent trips in and out of the country, will also be vaccinated in Q2.

The task force noted that its vaccination plan accounts for the vaccine supply schedule.

“A total of 17,793,000 doses of vaccine have been lined up for the first half of the year. We’ve confirmed that 16,102,000 of those doses will be delivered between March and June. We’re continuing to discuss the delivery schedule of the remaining doses with individual manufacturers.”

By Choi Ha-yan, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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