Seoul, Jan 28 (efe-epa).- South Korea intends to begin its COVID-19 vaccination campaign in February, first inoculating frontline workers, followed by hundreds of thousands of elderly and dependent people, according to a plan presented Thursday.
The arrival in the country of the first vaccine shipments manufactured by AstraZeneca is scheduled for the end of February and the first doses will be for some 50,000 health workers in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients in the capital region.
Seoul and its surrounding regions, with about 26 million inhabitants (more than half of the national population) have the highest population density in the country and account for the most infections.
Then, some 780,000 elderly and dependent people will be vaccinated until the end of March, according to the Agency for the Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases (KDCA.) In mid-March the vaccinations of some 440,000 health workers, paramedics, epidemiological researchers or people who work in the national quarantine system will begin.
In April, those over 65 and staff who work in centers for the elderly and dependent people – some 9.4 million inhabitants – will receive their doses.
Some 380,000 small clinic health workers will also be included in this second phase, as well as pharmacists, according to the KDCA.
Those with chronic diseases aged between 19 and 64 will be inoculated from June onward.
Pregnant women and those under 19 will be excluded at the beginning of the campaign while the vaccine’s possible side effects continue to be analyzed, although they could be included later depending on the studies carried out.
The country hopes to have vaccinated 70 percent of the population by September and reach the so-called herd immunity (80 percent 90 percent of the population) in November, as the KDCA announced this week.
Through the COVAX program and contracts with four different pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna) South Korea, home to 51.6 million people, claims to have enough vaccines for 56 million people this year. EFE-EPA