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South Korea to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17, give boosters to elderly

South Korea to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17, give boosters to elderly

A girl wearing a mask to avoid contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) sits on a suitcase as people walk on a zebra crossing in Seoul, South Korea on Sep 24, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

SEOUL: South Korea said on Monday (Sep 27) it would begin inoculations next month for children aged 12 to 17 and offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to those 75 years and above as the country starts to transition to normalcy by the end of October.

South Korea, which has been battling a fourth wave of infections since early July, scrambled over the weekend to contain a surge in cases.

Infections topped 3,000 for the first time fuelled by last week's public holidays.

The vaccination advisory committee of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has ruled that the benefits outweigh the risks in vaccinating children.

However, parents who have healthy children, such as those who do not have underlying conditions, are advised to weigh the relative benefits in making their decision, KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyeong told a news conference on Monday.

While approving vaccinations for 12 to 17 year-olds, who will be given Pfizer shots, the panel and the government had not mandated that all children should take the shot.

The United States had by August vaccinated 50 per cent of 12-17 year-olds and some European and Asian countries, including Germany and the Philippines have also been recommending vaccines for the age group.

Jeong said the initial booster doses from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will go to those with weakened immune systems or deemed to be at high risk - the elderly, nursing home patients and staff.

The country aims to boost vaccination and fully immunise 90per cent of those aged 60 and older, and 80 per cent of 18 to 59-year-olds by the end of October.

More than 91 per cent of the people aged 60 and above have so far received at least one dose, and vaccinations are under way for those 18 and above, 86.3 per cent of whom have already had the first shot.

South Korea has reported 2,383 new coronavirus cases for Sunday, bringing total infections to 303,553, with 2,456 deaths.

Despite the high daily case numbers, the country has kept its mortality rate and severe COVID-19 cases relatively low and steady at 0.81per cent and 319, respectively, as of Sunday.

Around 74.2 per cent of its 52 million population have had at least one dose of a vaccine through Sunday, and more than 45per cent are fully vaccinated.

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Source: Reuters/ad

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