December 24, 2020 09:30
The U.S. Forces Korea will start coronavirus vaccinations as early as next week, it said Wednesday. That will also include Korean soldiers with the Korean Augmentation Troops.
USFK Commander Robert Abrams said in a statement that his troops will start receiving Moderna's vaccine, the second one approved in the U.S., in the coming days. The first recipients will be medical staff and other essential workers, according to U.S. Defense Department, and additional supplies are on the way for all USFK members here.
"That includes KATUSA soldiers and civilian Korean workers in the military," a military source here said.
Under Pentagon regulations, initial supplies of vaccines will go to doctors, nurses, firefighters and other emergency personnel, starting with medical staff at Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.
KATUSA soldiers serve with American troops but are in the charge of the Korean military, so the U.S. needs to consult with the Defense Ministry here before inoculating them.
A government source said, "Consultations between Korea and the U.S. have already begun. There is no reason for the government to oppose vaccinations for KATUSA soldiers."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Thursday that the government signed deals with Janssen and Pfizer the previous day to purchase their vaccines.
But Janssen will not supply its 6 million doses until the second quarter of next year, and Koreans will have to wait until the third quarter for Pfizer's 10 million doses because the government dragged its heels in the hope that the epidemic would go away on its own.
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