Korea Falls Behind Rest of the World in Vaccination Drive

  • By Lee Joon-woo, Choi Eun-kyung

    February 25, 2021 10:40

    Korea's coronavirus vaccination drive is so slow that it lags behind 101 other countries when inoculations start Friday.

    According to Our World in Data, a global statistics website run by Oxford University, 101 of the world's 196 countries had started their vaccination drive by Monday.

    The U.S. has vaccinated the largest number of people with 64.18 million, followed by China's 40.52 million, the U.K.'s 18.35 million, and India's 11.42 million in terms of sheer numbers. But proportionally, Israel leads the pack with 87 percent of its population already inoculated, followed by the UAE's 56 percent.

    Vaccinations have started even in Algeria, Egypt and Morocco in Africa, and in Asia only a handful of countries are still waiting to start them, including Korea, Afghanistan, Laos, Mongolia, Vietnam and Ukraine.

    Police escort a vehicle carrying AstraZeneca's vaccines in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Meanwhile Jeong Eun-kyeong, the chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, on Wednesday downplayed vaccination side effects amid reports that many Koreans are reluctant to get the jab.

    "Most reactions to the vaccination reported in the U.S. and Europe are harmless ones like soreness, swelling, fever, headache, tiredness and muscle pain, and they disappear a few days later."

    She added that the jab is safe for anyone unless they are in bad condition despite medication for high blood pressure or diabetes or a history of cancer surgery.

    Anyone showing side effects after vaccination can report them to a public health center and seek compensation from the government. About W430 million will be paid in compensation if anyone dies (US$1=W1,109).

    The KDCA will issue online certificates to those who have been vaccinated, but this will not liberate them from lockdown. The government reasons that it would be "discriminatory" if those who are already immune are treated differently, and they face punishment for breaking quarantine rules even if those are now pointless in their case.

    Vaccinations start here at 9 a.m. on Friday with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be administered to 290,000 people, including inmates under 65 and medical professionals at nursing homes nationwide.

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