High School Seniors to Be Vaccinated in July

  • By Lee Joon-woo, Kim Sung-mo

    May 28, 2021 11:55

    High school seniors and teachers will get their first coronavirus jab in July so they are fully vaccinated in time for the university entrance exam in mid-November.

    A government spokesman said Thursday, "We're going to start inoculating people aged 50-59, high school seniors and other potential exam takers such as repeaters as well as primary and secondary school teachers in July."

    They can choose their preferred date and clinic for vaccination. There are 490,000 18-year-old high school seniors and 8.6 million 50-somethings. Authorities want to limit vaccination to students who have already registered for this year's university entrance exam.

    The next age groups to be vaccinated are people in their 40s, then 30s and 20s. No decision has been made which vaccines they will be given. But high school seniors will most likely be given Pfizer shots due to the risk of rare blood clots and other side effects of AstraZeneca's vaccine, which has been restricted to over-30s here.

    Pfizer is so far the only vaccine that has been authorized for minors aged 16-17. By July, shipments of Moderna's vaccine may also have arrived.

    Vaccination started for over-75s on April 1 and for those aged 65-74 on Thursday. Those aged 60-64 will start getting their shots from June 7. Authorities hope to give first jabs to 13 million people by late June and increase the number to 36 million people or about 70 percent of the population by September. The goal is to have 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated by November to achieve herd immunity.

    People wait to get vaccinated in Seoul on Thursday.

    Pfizer shots will be available at about 1,500 nationwide clinics and hospitals. Until recently, they were given only at about 260 vaccination centers due to the strict cold storage requirements. But the European Medicines Agency recently said the Pfizer vaccine can be stored at normal fridge temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for a month, which took some of the pressure off.

    Meanwhile, vaccination centers crowded with people over 65 on Thursday, and 646,000 of them got their jabs on the first day. Some 564,000 of them were given AstraZeneca shots and 82,000 over-75s Pfizer shots.

    Online bookings for leftover vaccines on Naver and Kakao apps also started that day. Anyone who has not made an appointment earlier can search for nearby clinics or hospitals with vaccines left over from no-shows.

    There are about 10 doses in each AstraZeneca vial and leftovers have to be thrown out unless the vial is used up within six hours. The Kakao app went down at one time due to overload, and many users complained that there were no leftovers anywhere.

    Meanwhile, the daily tally of new coronavirus infections stood at 587 as of Friday morning.

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