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S. Korea to consider those with chronic illnesses for COVID-19 vaccination priority Updated: 2021-01-19 14:34:53 KST

With South Korea's vaccination program yet to begin, the question is still who will get the shots and in what order.

"In the beginning of the vaccination process, we have decided to prioritize high-risk patients in order to lower the death rate."

That would suggest the priority will be people with underlying illnesses since it's widely known that they account for most COVID-19 deaths.
In fact, underlying illnesses have been present in 95 percent of all the deaths reported in South Korea, the most common ones affecting the heart, such as high blood pressure.
Heart problems affected patients in more than 900 deaths.
Other notable factors have been endocrine and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
According to the country's Health Review and Insurance Service, in 2019, South Korea had nearly 19 million people with chronic illnesses, with a third of them having high blood pressure.
They'll get their vaccines, but it's not yet clear when.

"A patient having one chronic illness is rare most of them have multiple. So, it's hard to classify them and prioritize them by illness when vaccinating them. It's only possible to classify them by age, starting with the older generations."

For other countries, the priorities vary.
For example, the U.S. state of New Jersey has recently said that it'll inoculate smokers before some so-called essential workers.
For Indonesia, the first to be vaccinated will be those under 60, according to the country's health authorities, because they want to inoculate the productive population first.
While the order is still unclear for South Korea and the process yet to start, it still plans to achieve mass immunization by November.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.
Reporter : tkim@arirang.com
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