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(LEAD) Pregnant women, younger children to get jabs from mid-October; booster shots eyed for elders, healthcare workers

National 15:36 September 27, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 10, 12-13)
By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to pregnant women and younger children starting Oct. 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 percent of the country's adults by end of October and achieve herd immunity by November.

A medical worker watches people standing in line to receive coronavirus tests at a screening clinic in Seoul's Songpa Ward on Sept. 27, 2021. (Yonhap)

The country's vaccination campaign started Feb. 26 with some virus-vulnerable groups and front-line medical workers being prioritized for inoculations.

A total of 38.1 million people have received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines, accounting for 74.2 percent of the country's population, while those who are fully vaccinated had reached 23.2 million, or 45.3 percent, 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 Oct. 18.

The inclusion came following an increased number of younger COVID-19 patients amid the fourth wave of the outbreak, the KDCA said.

A total of 3,100 COVID-19 patients aged between 12 and 17 were newly confirmed in August alone.

A total of some 136,000 pregnant women will also start receiving the first shot in the fourth quarter, the KDCA said.

The incidence rate of COVID-19 is relatively low among pregnant women, but it is six times more likely for them to develop into severe cases.

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 been the main culprit behind the current fourth wave of the outbreak.

Priority groups, including the elderly population and healthcare workers who received the first jab in February, are to receive booster shots first.

The KDCA said it is in principle to inoculate messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines for booster shots.

However, healthcare workers and elderly people aged 75 or older who had previously received two Pfizer Inc. shots can receive the booster shot of the same brand.

The group includes around 3.69 million people until the end of the fourth quarter.

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-19 cases, remaining in the 2,000s for a second day, amid concerns the daily caseload may sharply increase as more people get tested after the extended holiday. The total caseload increased to 303,553.


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