On Covid vaccines, many Koreans say, 'You first!'

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On Covid vaccines, many Koreans say, 'You first!'

A medical worker takes a breather Thursday at a Covid-19 testing site in Gwangju. [YONHAP]

A medical worker takes a breather Thursday at a Covid-19 testing site in Gwangju. [YONHAP]

Just weeks before the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrive in Korea, a survey shows more than half the country have reservations about getting the shots — and would rather see others get theirs first.  
 
The findings were revealed Thursday by the Graduate School of Public Health at Seoul National University (SNU) and Kstat, a local pollster.  
 
In a joint survey conducted from Jan. 8 to 10 of 1,094 adults nationwide aged 18 and older, 67.7 percent said they would “wait for a certain amount of time or as long as possible” to get vaccinated, far higher than 28.6 percent of whom said they would like to be vaccinated “as soon as possible.”
 
In a follow-up question asking what decision they would make if local experts fully verify the safety of the vaccines and the shots were offered for free — the latter of which President Moon Jae-in has already promised — 53.2 percent replied they would “probably” take the vaccines, while 27.1 percent said they would “definitely” take the vaccines; 11.6 percent said they would “probably” not take the vaccines and 1.8 percent said they would “definitely” not take the vaccines.  
 
The study results “show Koreans are very discreet about the risks of the coronavirus and about developing and using vaccines,” said You Myoung-soon, a professor at the SNU graduate school who led the study. At the same time, “It also shows [Koreans] have a fair amount of trust in the government and vaccines,” she added.
 
In the same survey, when asked whether they think Korea is “safe” from the Covid-19 pandemic, 59.7 percent replied that the country is not safe, while 29.2 percent said it seemed average. 
 
Only about 11 percent answered Korea is safe.  
 
Respondents were also told to rate how much they’ve recovered their pre-Covid lives on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being “not at all” and 100 being “fully recovered.” The average rate turned out to be 40, higher than last September’s 38.9, when the country was going through its second wave of infections, and last December’s 39.1, when the third wave was at its peak.
 
Prof. You suggested the Korean government overhaul its K-quarantine system, stressing it was time health authorities adopt a model that sets long-term crisis management goals rather than sticking to a model that focuses on current issues.  
 
“At a time when we don’t know when [the pandemic] will end, we could find hope in a crisis management system that’s centered on [people’s] livelihoods, not vaccines,” said You.  
 
BY LEE SUNG-EUN, YI WOO-RIM   [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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