March 1, 2024
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Expect “at least another 10 weeks” of vaccine shortages, says German Health Minister

South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) announced in a briefing Thursday the country’s vaccine rollout plan that’s set to begin next month.

AstraZeneca and Covax vaccinations will begin for around 1.3 million people, frontline healthcare workers and those working and staying in nursing facilities in late February, KDCA said. 

In May, 9 million people, including those who are over 65 years old or are staying in facilities for seniors or disabled persons, will receive vaccines. In July, the general public will receive vaccines, KDCA said. 

Those under 18 years of age or pregnant will be exempted from vaccination, KDCA said in a press release.

Those who must travel abroad on emergency business or governmental capacity will be able to receive shots ahead of schedule, KDCA said.

The logistics: To facilitate the vaccination, the government will establish 250 vaccination centers in large halls and gymnasiums and designate 10,000 medical facilities for vaccination throughout the country, KDCA said. A traveling vaccination team will also visit nursing facilities and homes of disabled people. 

Private enterprises, government workers, and military officials will help distribute the vaccines, coordinated by a newly created Vaccine Logistical Support Headquarters. Chief of the headquarters, Lt. General Park Ju-kyeong said, “all available military resource will be mobilized” for safe and quick distribution of shots and the military will ensure delivery of vaccines to remote areas.

Deputy Police Commissioner Song Min-heon said police will participate in safeguarding of vaccines and protecting medical workers at the vaccination centers. Song vowed to strictly punish activity that disrupts vaccination, including assaulting of medical workers or spreading fake news regarding vaccines.

Vaccine certificates and travel: KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong said while there is no agreement with foreign countries or the World Health Organization on presenting vaccination certification to cross borders, those vaccinated can request certificates in both Korean and English. Jeong added that the authority plans to ease customs rules so that those entering South Korea with a vaccine certificate could be exempted from either quarantine or testing.

Jeong said until herd immunity is attained, mask wearing, and distancing must be thoroughly followed.