(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 4, 7-8)
SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will begin administering booster shots for high-risk people, including those aged 60 and older, and medical workers, in the near future, the prime minister said Sunday, amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases following a national holiday.
Kim Boo-kyum also noted the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) will announce a fourth-quarter inoculation plan, including the booster shot program, Monday.
Kim also said starting early next month, the government will shorten the interval between the first and second shots of two-dose vaccines to help further increase the percentage of those fully vaccinated.
The intervals for Pfizer's vaccine and Moderna's have been extended to six weeks from the initially recommended intervals of three weeks and four weeks, respectively, due to concerns about vaccine shortages.
The prime minister instructed officials to ensure that the process for those wanting to shorten their vaccination interval will not be confusing or inconvenient due to the change.
Kim, in addition, said that those subject to vaccinations will be expanded to include adolescents and pregnant women.
A new age group subject to the vaccination plan in the fourth quarter is expected to include those between the ages of 12 and 17. However, health authorities are unlikely to make it compulsory for young people to get vaccine jabs.
If the vaccination plan for the young age group is finalized, they are expected to get Pfizer's vaccine, as it is the only one that has so far been approved here for those aged 12 or older.
Touching on the rise in infections following the recent Chuseok holiday, the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving, Kim described the current status as "very grave."
"The coronavirus situation this week will determine the starting point of the plan for a phased recovery to normal life," Kim said, referring to the plan the government wants to begin implementing late next month.
BTS' J-Hope closes Chicago's Lollapalooza festival
(2nd LD) Kim, Pelosi agree to support efforts for denuclearization of N. Korea
(LEAD) Assembly speaker meets with Pelosi amid heightened Sino-U.S. tensions
Assembly Speaker Kim to meet with U.S. House Speaker Pelosi this week
(LEAD) Yoon's approval rating falls to 28.9 pct
Court recognizes death after drinking with boss as workplace accident
150 front-line Army commandoes to conduct joint training at U.S. Army's National Training Center
Whereabouts of 55 Thai tourists on Jeju unknown
(2nd LD) S. Korea's new COVID-19 cases above 100,000 for 6th day
Deputy national security adviser resigns due to health reasons