The Korea Herald


Moon says vaccinations 'faster than expected' as half of population gets first shots

By Yonhap

Published : Aug. 21, 2021 - 15:15

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A medical personnel gives a COVID-19 vaccine shot to a woman in a vaccination center in western Seoul on Aug. 21, 2021. (Yonhap) A medical personnel gives a COVID-19 vaccine shot to a woman in a vaccination center in western Seoul on Aug. 21, 2021. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in said Saturday that South Korea's vaccinations are proceeding at a faster pace than expected as over half of the population has received at least one shot as he vowed to speed up the inoculation drive to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 25.7 million people have received their first shots of COVID-19 vaccines as of 11 a.m., accounting for around 50 percent of the country's population, while those who are fully vaccinated reached 11.5 million, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

Moon asked people to actively get their vaccines to help slow down the spread of the virus and bring life back to normal.

"Over half of the people have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, and inoculations with the second shots are also gaining speed," Moon said in a Facebook message. "They are proceeding faster than expected."

If the current pace continues, Moon expected the nation to be able to partially inoculate 70 percent of the population before the Chuseok holiday, which is scheduled for Sept. 20-22, and complete vaccinations for more than half of the population within September.

Moon has ordered top officials to earmark sufficient funds related to COVID-19 vaccines in next year's state budget to prepare for the potential surge of a new variant, Park Soo-hyun, a senior secretary for public communications, said.

Earlier this week, the government and the ruling party agreed to raise the preliminary vaccine procurement budget for next year from 1.5 trillion won ($1.3 billion) to 2.5 trillion won, in accordance with Moon's call to ramp up the country's vaccine supply in order to be ready for any unexpected developments, such as a new virus variant, Park said.

Moon's remark was seen as efforts to assuage public concerns over the vaccine supply as a delay in the Moderna vaccine has forced health authorities to extend an inter-dose interval of some age groups.

South Korea also began allowing adults aged 30 and older to receive AstraZeneca vaccines left over after people do not show up for appointments.

The country earlier only allowed vaccines manufactured by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University to be taken by people aged 50 and older, following concerns over blood clots.

While Moderna earlier this week said it will expand shipments of its COVID-19 vaccine to South Korea for August and September, health authorities said they will push for various ways to secure enough vaccines.

The Romanian government has approved a decision to donate 450,000 doses of Moderna's vaccines nearing their expiry date to South Korea on humanitarian grounds, Romanian state news agency Agerpres reported.

The vaccination task force team said it has been consulting with the Romanian government for vaccine cooperation, without elaborating on the schedule of the vaccine delivery.

South Korea received 1.4 million doses of the Janssen vaccine from the US government in June to inoculate reserve forces and other military-related personnel, and secured about 780,000 doses of Pfizer's vaccine from Israel in July under an exchange deal. (Yonhap)