S. Korean pauses administration of first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine due to shortage

Posted on : 2021-05-04 17:20 KST Modified on : 2021-05-04 17:20 KST
The South Korean government plans to resume administration on May 27
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap News)
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap News)

The South Korean government is suspending administration of the AstraZeneca (AZ) COVID-19 vaccine at around 2,000 designated medical institutions from Sunday to 26 amid a shortage of doses.

As of May 27, it plans to resume the administration of first doses, with the number of designated institutions expanded to around 14,000. Administration of another vaccine by Pfizer is to be focused solely on second doses through the third week of May, apart from some reserved vaccinations early this month.

The government also plans to implement a strategy of rapidly raising the number of first doses administered as of late May, with seniors aged 60 to 64 newly included among the targeted COVID-19 vaccine recipients during the second quarter.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced its vaccination plan Monday for May and afterward, which included an expansion of the targets for AZ vaccine administration in the second quarter from the original age range of 65 to 74 years (4.94 million people) to the new range of 60 to 75 years (8.95 million people).

This means that vaccinations are scheduled to begin in early June for some 4 million South Koreans aged 60 to 64. The targets for AZ vaccine administration are those born between Jan. 1, 1947, and Dec. 31, 1961.

“An analysis of the [vaccine’s] effects on South Koreans aged 65 and up showed a high prevention effect of 86 percent starting two weeks after the first AZ dose was administered,” said KDCA Commissioner Jung Eun-kyeong.

“In terms of safety, the adverse reaction reporting rate for those aged 60 and over is 0.1 percent, which is low, and no cases of unusual blood clots have been reported,” she added.

Reservation dates and the schedule for beginning vaccinations in May and June were also finalized. Reservations are to begin Thursday, while vaccine administration starts on May 27 at the earliest.

Reservation acceptance is to begin Thursday for those aged 70 to 74, Monday for those aged 65 to 69, and May 13 for those aged 60 to 64. Actual vaccinations begin on May 27 for those aged 65 to 74 and June 7 for those aged 60 to 64.

Reservations will also be available as of May 13 for 364,000 care workers and teachers at kindergartens, daycare centers, and the first and second years of elementary school. Vaccinations for this group are to begin on June 7.

Administration of the Pfizer vaccine is to begin in June for around 190,000 first responders and other eligible recipients under 30, who have been ruled out from receiving the AZ vaccine due to blood clotting side effects.

Another 452,000 members of the military under 30 will be receiving inoculations at military hospitals and units, either with the Pfizer vaccine or with others produced by Moderna and Novavax. Negotiations are currently underway over the arrival dates for the Moderna and Novavax vaccines.

“Kindergarten, daycare center, and elementary school first and second year teachers will also be receiving the Pfizer vaccine if they are under 30,” said Kim Ki-nam, director of the vaccination response team’s vaccination management group, in a briefing.

Some specifics were also shared about the vaccine delivery plans. A total of 7.23 million doses acquired through an individual contract with AZ are to arrive in phases between May 14 and the first week of June.

Kim explained, “We’re planning on a large-scale shipment where the doses arriving as of May 14 are supplied all at once to 14,000 designated medical institutions that will be administering the [AZ] vaccine as of May 27.”

Between now and Saturday, the only vaccinations scheduled are the administration of the 345,000 remaining AZ doses to first responders and others. Other than that, the administration of first doses will be effectively on pause until May 27.

The South Korean government has announced that it plans to increase its targeted population for vaccination during the first half of the year from 12 million to over 13 million South Koreans.

By Kim Ji-hoon, staff reporter

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

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles