It's vaccine week here in South Korea. Nine A.M. sharp this Friday, South Korea will kick off its nationwide vaccination against Covid-19 with the AstraZeneca-made vaccine.
Inoculations of healthcare workers will begin with Pfizer's on Saturday.
Although the country has become a role model for its mass testing and aggressive contact tracing measures after being one of the first to be hit by the pandemic last year, vaccinations have been much slower. But, the nation's prime minister says South Korea will achiece herd immuity from Covid-19 by fall this year.
All things Covid-19 vaccine. Let's go in-depth. Live in the studio with me is Dr. Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital and our favorite medical expert here on News In-depth.
Dr. Tan, thanks for joining us.
Now, health officials will start inoculating medical staff in hospitals and care homes later this week.
The aim is to give some 800-thousand people the jab over the next month using vaccines produced by AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech.
How realistic is the goal to achieve the first set of vaccination on 70-percent of the population by September?
As we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun is confident we can achieve herd immunity by fall. How will we know herd immunity is reached?
South Korea is not traditionally a country that shuns mass vaccinations. Our inoculation rate for major diseases such as hepatitis B is usually higher than those of the U.S., the UK and Australia.
But a recent poll by the Korea Society Opinion Institute found that only around 45-percent of those asked were willing to get the Covid-19 vaccination when their turn comes in the next few months.
Another 45-percent said they wanted to delay getting their shots to "watch the situation."
Five perent said they would refuse to be vaccinated. What's going on?
So, inoculations start in South Korea with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine this Friday at care homes. Again, this is excluding those aged over 65.
Meanwhile, some 58,500 medical workers at Covid-19 designated hospitals will be inoculated with Pfizer's vaccine the following day. Could this be adding mistrust among the people?
South Korea, today, announced experts' recommendations to grant approval to Pfizer as it's proven over 95-percent efficacy in all age groups 16 years and older. That is including those 65 and up. Will South Korea consider directing its Pfizer vaccines to inoculating this age group or should it?
Amid controversy over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine on older people, on Monday, the main opposition People Power Party demanded that President Moon Jae-in be the first recipient of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to ease anxieties over its safety.
President Moon is 68 years of age What kind of message could the President being inoculated send to the people?
Let me move on to some questions that the average person like myself may have as we wait for our turns to be vaccinated. What side effects might I experience after getting the jab?
Is there a danger of long-term effects after this vaccine?
Should those who have existing conditions or those who are pregnant or breast feeding opt out of getting vaccinated?
How long will the COVID vaccines remain effective? Will I need a booster?
If I have one vaccine now, can I get a different one later?
Even if I do get vaccinated, could I still catch the virus?
When do we expect a vaccine be available for children?
Dr. Alice Tan, many thanks as always for your insights. We appreciate it.