SEOUL: South Korea said on Thursday (Jan 28) it would begin COVID-19 vaccinations for the general public in the third quarter of this year, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a news briefing.
Inoculations would begin in February starting with key groups, including medical workers and the elderly in nursing homes, Jeong said.
The country said it aimed to reach "herd immunity" levels through mass vaccinations by November.
South Korea has secured 106 million doses to allow for coverage of 56 million people, more than the 52 million residents of the country.
It has deals with four drugmakers - AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, Moderna and the World Health Organization-backed global COVAX scheme.
South Korean authorities are scrambling to contain coronavirus outbreaks centred around Christian schools as the country reported a jump in infections, dampening hopes of a speedy exit from a third wave of the pandemic.
A total of 297 COVID-19 cases had been traced to six churches and mission schools run by a Christian organisation, senior health official Yoon Tae-ho said on Wednesday.
South Korea had managed to keep the virus under control thanks to aggressive testing and contact-tracing, but a third wave that broke out late last year has proven more difficult to contain.
The KDCA has said that 45.4 per cent of infections in the country over the past year were caused by cluster infections emerging from specific close-knit groups. Religious facilities were the main source of such clusters.
The total number of infections reported in the country now stands at 76,926, with the death toll of 1,386.