3 more groups eligible for Covid-19 booster shots
Korea will give out Covid-19 booster shots to adults in their 50s, patients with underlying diseases and Janssen recipients starting next month.
The country’s Covid-19 Vaccination Task Force unveiled Thursday details of its vaccination plan for November and December, newly adding 2.05 million more people eligible for booster shots. A booster shot refers to an extra dose of a vaccine after the initial series of injections to boost immunization.
Considering the risks of infection, hospitalization, fatality and breakthrough cases, the task force expanded the list of people eligible for booster shots to those in their 50s, those with underlying illnesses, recipients of the Janssen vaccine and priority occupational groups.
Korea earlier approved frontline medical personnel treating virus patients, people over the age of 60, patients and employees in old age homes and people with weakened immune systems — estimated to be around 3.69 million — for booster shots and began administering them this month.
Health authorities announced that booster shots will be offered for people who have been fully vaccinated for at least six months; however, people with immunity deficiencies and those who received the one-dose Janssen vaccine will be able to get the booster jabs starting two months after their last shot.
Most booster shots will be given as mRNA-based vaccines — Pfizer or Moderna — and the authorities advise getting the same vaccine type as the one they were administered before. Only those aged 30 and older can get the booster with the Janssen vaccine.
The some 1.48 million people who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months prior were made eligible for booster shots as cases of breakthrough infections — a fully vaccinated person catching the coronavirus — continue to be reported in the country.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), 266.5 people per 100,000 fully vaccinated Janssen recipients have experienced breakthrough infections. The number is trailed by 99.1 per 100,000 people receiving AstraZeneca jabs, 48.2 receiving Pfizer, 4.6 receiving Moderna and 71.1 receiving mixed vaccines.
Reservations for boosters will open from 8 p.m. Thursday on the vaccine reservation website (ncvr.kdca.go.kr). Inoculations will start for this group from Nov. 8.
The task force explained the fatality rate among Covid-19 patients in their 50s, which is at 0.31 percent, is much higher than that of other age groups — which is 0.02 to 0.07 percent for those in their 20s to 40s. Around 320,000 people in their 50s have completed vaccination at least six months prior and can get a booster, while the rest will be eligible sequentially from next year.
People aged 18 to 49 with underlying diseases include those with conditions like diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic renal failure, chronic hepatitis B, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. These patients are advised to receive a booster as per recommendation of their doctor.
Essential workers eligible for a booster include Covid-19 first responders, employees at medical clinics and pharmacies, child care and special education workers, school nurses, police, firefighters and soldiers.
Reservations for people in their 50s, patients with underlying illnesses and priority occupations will open from 8 p.m. next Monday, and their inoculations will start from Nov. 15.
Those wishing to get their booster shots earlier can apply for leftover vaccines from canceled appointments, which will be made available from Nov. 1.
While Korea is set to ease virus restrictions from next week, the country saw a dangerous uptick in Covid cases on Thursday.
From Nov. 1, social distancing restrictions will begin to be lifted in six-week stages, for three stages.
BY SEO JI-EUN [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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