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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: South Korea’s Vaccination Plans

AP Photo/David Goldman, File

Starting next week, travelers from South Korea will be able to join Hawaii's Safe Travels program — allowing those with a negative COVID test from a "trusted partner" to skip any quarantine. That news comes as South Korea has just announced its next steps to fight the virus.


South Korea will start to roll out its COVID vaccination program next month. As with most countries, the first to get the shots will be front-line medical workers — about 50-thousand of them — followed by nearly 800,000 patients and staff at elder care facilities.

Next up in March will be nearly half a million high-risk health care workers at general hospitals — along with emergency responders.

The bigger numbers begin in May, when about 8.5 million people aged 65 and over will start to be scheduled for vaccinations — as will some other health care workers, pharmacists and others.

The target date for the rest of the general public will be between July and September.

The government says it has purchased enough vaccines to cover 56-million people, slightly more than the population of the country, delivering them in a combination of hospitals, medical clinics and some 250 designated vaccination centers.

The vaccines are made by companies including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.

The country will also use the World Health Organization’s development and distribution program called COVAX.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency says it wants to vaccinate 70% of the national population by September — and achieve “herd immunity” by November.

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