AND now for greater domestic coverage of the pandemic and response efforts I have our Eum Ji-young here in the studio.
Now Ji-young Soa mentioned this after Monday's briefing BUT do tell us a bit more about plans to inoculate expecting mothers.
Sure, Sunhee. Starting from the fourth quarter of this year, pregnant women will be able to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.
This comes after health authorities determined that expecting mothers are at greater risk of being infected and developing serious illnesses.
Also in their assessment, there's no particular danger in vaccinating pregnant women, a view that is shared by the WHO and many other countries across the globe.
In places like the U.S. and the UK, inoculations for pregnant women are already underway and Korea is looking to follow suit, with the use of mRNA vaccines.
Health authorities also approved vaccinations for children aged 12 to 17, in the upcoming fourth quarter.
This follows an earlier decision in July by Korea's drug regulator to lower the age limit of Pfizer vaccines to 12 and above.
Further details on the inoculation plan for minors and pregnant women will be shared by the government sometime in September, along with an announcement on booster shots as well.
President Moon Jae-in said Monday that progress on all of these front could add further momentum in country's vaccination drive.
(KOREAN- ) SOV
"We could see a vaccination rate of around 80 percent if we complete the inoculations of those who have yet to receive their shots, and lower the minimum age limit for vaccines to 12 year-olds and above. Doing so may result in our vaccine coverage overtaking those of other countries."
Meanwhile, second-dose inoculations for those aged 60 to 74 are nearly complete.
Around 70 percent of the country's population are expected to receive their first jabs and around half of all Koreans could be fully vaccinated before the Chuseok holidays arrive in mid-September.
Health authorities are also recommending people to get their booster shots 6 months after their second dose.
(KOREAN- ) 08.30 14:10
"Booster shots will be administered 6 months after full vaccination, keeping in mind the threat of the Delta variant and the fact that antibodies diminish over time, which could lead to more breakthrough infections. We also recommend those who are immuno-deficient to get their booster shots before the 6-month mark."
And staying with inoculation efforts I hear Korea is boosting its spending on vaccines next year?
That's right. This morning, the country unveiled a record, 520 billion U.S. dollar budget for 2022.
The proposed bill calls for an 8.3 percent increase in spending compared to this year's budget.
It is largely aimed at tackling the pandemic and implementing an exit strategy.
The government is looking to spend roughly 5 billion dollars to purchase vaccines and reinforce its prevention and response efforts to better cope with infectious diseases.
This is a dramatic increase from some 685 million dollars that was set aside this year.
Next year, the government will purchase 90 million additional vaccine doses, to hedge against the risk of a worsening outbreak or another global supply crunch.
The government will also provide ample financial support for vaccinations centers and the infrastructure needed for the storage and delivery of vaccines.
Funds will also be earmarked to build new hospitals specialized in the treatment of infectious diseases.
The government will also expand its R&D budget for locally-developed vaccines.
The country will inject some 600 million dollars to help commercialize homegrown vaccines within the first half of next year, and also to train experts and establish a global network.
Korea is aiming to become the fifth-largest player in the global vaccine market by 2025, where it currently stands at 9th.
Aside from vaccines Ji-young next year's budget also includes support for those affected by the pandemic?
Right Sunhee. One of the important parts of the bill is support for small business owners who have been hit hard by the pandemic.
The government has set aside roughly 3.3 billion dollars to help them get back on their feet and pave the way for a quick economic rebound.
Part of the budget will be used to provide compensation to businesses that have been most affected by social distancing restrictions.
Also, low-interest loans will be provided to those in need of refinancing.
Another big slice of the budget will be used to stimulate the job market.
Roughly 27 billion dollars will be spent to create and sustain some two million jobs, along with support measures for the country's most vulnerable residents.
Also, the government is maintaining its goal of going carbon neutral by 2050, and its Digital and Green New Deal projects, are expected to create some 2.5 million jobs by 2025.
Right and we have more on the plight of small business owners later on in the program.
For now Ji-young thank you.
Thank you for having me.