South Korea shortens wait time for COVID-19 boosters amid rising cases

South Korea will reportedly be cutting short the wait time for COVID-19 booster shots as the number of daily cases in the country went above 3,000 while breakthrough infections continue to send individuals to hospitals.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, during a government meeting, supposedly announced that the wait time for booster shots will be cut down from six months to four months for citizens above the age of 60, as well as for residents of long-term care facilities. For citizens aged 50 and above, booster doses will be available five months after their primary vaccine dosage.

Minister Kim stated that with the decision to offer booster doses earlier, more than 13 million people will be eligible to receive extra vaccination against the COVID-19 virus before the end of the year. 

Health officials believe that the recent surge in hospitalizations and deaths is on account of a high proportion of older patients, with the country phasing out its restrictions in an attempt to return to normal.

In its first phase, out of a total of three, South Korea has lifted restrictions as well as certain curfews for high-risk businesses.

For the fifth time in the past two weeks, on Tuesday afternoon, the number of severe or critically ill patients set a record of 522 people, with 62 intensive care beds. Additionally, 3,184 confirmed cases were also recorded on the same day, becoming the second-highest number of cases reported in a single day, with the highest being 3,270 that was recorded on September 25.

As per official statistics, while only 8% of people aged 60 and above are either unvaccinated or partly vaccinated in the country, yet they make up for more than 61% of the 452 deaths that were reported between 3rd October to 6th November.

Breakthrough infections have also been reported mostly in people aged 80 and above, with 0.183% of fully vaccinated people in that age group having tested positive.

Earlier, people in the age group of 60 to 74 years who had received their second dose of vaccine in August or September, would have been eligible for boosters sometime early next year. However, their wait time is also expected to be lowered due to the recently announced change.

Source credit: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20211028000865