Seoul: South Korea will begin administering Covid-19 vaccines to pregnant women and younger children starting from October 18 as part of its efforts to inoculate more people amid little signs of letup in the fourth wave of the pandemic, health authorities said Monday.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced the list of fourth-quarter vaccine recipients to achieve its goal of inoculating more than 80 per cent of the country’s adults by end of October and achieve herd immunity by November, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The country’s vaccination campaign started February 26 with some virus-vulnerable groups and front-line medical workers being prioritised for inoculations. A total of 38.1 million people have received their first shots of Covid-19 vaccines, accounting for 74.2 per cent of the country’s population, while those who are fully vaccinated had reached 23.2 million, or 45.3 per cent, as of Monday.
Those who have been excluded from the inoculation program, a total of 2.77 million youths aged between 12 and 17, are scheduled to receive first doses starting October 18. The inclusion came following an increased number of younger Covid-19 patients amid the fourth wave of the pandemic, the KDCA said.
A total of 3,100 infected patients aged between 12 and 17 were newly confirmed in August alone.
The authorities, however, said pregnant women with underlying diseases or those in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy are recommended to decide on vaccination after consultation with a doctor.
The plan also includes providing booster shots to deal with the more contagious Delta variant, which has triggered the fourth wave. Priority groups, including the elderly population and healthcare workers who received the first jab in February, are to receive booster shots first.
South Korea has secured enough shots to fully vaccinate 99 million people for this year’s vaccination drive with vaccines from Moderna Inc., Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.
On Monday, the country reported 2,383 new Covid infections, which increased the total caseload to 303,553.